210: What to Do When Your Child is Aggressive, with Tosha Schore

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Many neurodivergent kids — including those with ADHD, autism, and anxiety — can be quite aggressive at home or at school. To cope with and improve aggressive behavior, you have to understand why it happens. In a global sense, the child doesn’t feel safe, and acknowledging this is a great place to start. 

Tosha Schore of Parenting Boys Peacefully is my guest on this episode. In her work with families, Tosha helps parents discover the root of the aggression and work to diffuse it. Listen in to learn the three things you  must understand if your child (or student) is aggressive, common mistakes to avoid, and how to restore peace.


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My Guest

Tosha Schore

Tosha Schore is on a mission to create a more peaceful world, one sweet boy at a time by supporting you to care for yourself, connect with your boy deeply, set limits lovingly, and play wildly!


She brings a burst of energy and optimism to parenting, and is an expert at simple solutions to what feel like overwhelmingly complicated problems.

Through her online community and courses, Tosha helps break the isolation of modern parenting and lifts your confidence so you’re better equipped to face the challenges of raising young boys.

Tosha is the creator of all things Parenting Boys Peacefully, including her 10-Day Reconnect, an online group experience shared by over 15,000 parents worldwide. She is also co-author of Listen: Five Simple Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting Challenges, a trainer of Hand in Hand Parenting, and a frequent guest expert on podcasts and at online and in-person conferences. You can find her at www.parentingboyspeacefully.com



Tosha Schore 0:03

They have a broken arm, for example, we don't get angry at them that they can't hold the pencil, we get creative about how to help, we might suggest that they tell us what they want to write, and we write it for them, or they use voice recognition software or something, but we're not getting angry at them and forcing them to write with their arm and a cast. But we get confused. When the challenge is emotional, we can't see it.

Penny Williams 0:30

Welcome to the beautifully complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams, I'm a parenting coach, author and mindset mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Hello, parents and educators and other caring adults, I'm happy to have you back with me on the beautifully complex podcast. And I'm really excited today to be talking to Tosha Schore of parenting boys peacefully. And we're going to talk about aggression, which is a real problem for a lot of our families. And Tosha has some great insights and strategies for you. So I can't wait to dive right into this topic, I know that I am going to learn a lot and that all of you will learn a lot as well. So thank you so much for sharing some of your time and wisdom with us. Tosha, will you start by introducing yourself and letting everyone know who you are and what you do?

Tosha Schore 1:32

Absolutely, thank you for asking me on. My name is Tosha Schore and I am the founder and creator of everything, parenting boys peacefully. And my mission as a business is to create a more peaceful world, one sweet boy at a time. And I do that by teaching parents to care for themselves to connect with their boys deeply to set limits lovingly and to play wildly. And I want to preface what we go into here by saying that, because I'm talking to parents of boys a lot, and that's sort of my my bigger focus, I will often say, Boy, or him or he, but everything that we're talking about is relevant to any child who's struggling with aggression, and any family who is looking to help their young one to move through aggression.

Penny Williams 2:22

Yeah, I'm glad that you send that because I think it's really important that we don't leave out anybody who could be helped by this information, I think it will be helpful to so many, in a lot of different ways. So do you want to start by talking about maybe some examples of aggression that families might be dealing with?

Tosha Schore 2:43

Sure. I got families who are dealing with little ones, and not so little ones. Maybe I got family who's got a 12 year old who is really struggling. And when he feels disappointed, or like his brother has it better than him or got a gift that was better than the gift that he got, for example, will sometimes throw something and break it or turn the garbage can and pour it out. I've got you know, a family with a five year old, who when he gets angry, and usually that's because he's not getting his way. He will spit. I've got you know, family with Metallica and whatever, nine or 10 year old, something like that. And again, when he's upset, it tends to come out with more like verbal aggression. So, you know, I don't know what your the rating is here, but I'll just say, definitely not PG words coming out of his mouth reports. You know, calling really, really nasty. Yeah. But essentially, it can look like, you know, taking hitting, pinching, spitting, name calling, throwing things, breaking things. And this is towards a parent or towards a sibling, most of the time, sometimes it's happening out in the world as well, at school.

Penny Williams 4:10

Yeah, I think that we forget sometimes to include verbal aggression, in that. And I'm really glad that you did, because that feels bad on the receiving end, too. And it feels personal. And I'm sure we're gonna get into that aspect of it more as the adult on the receiving end, that it feels really personal. And we have to separate ourselves from that to be able to be helpful.

Tosha Schore 4:34

It's interesting. You know what one of the things that I like to point out to parents is, we all feel differently about these different types of behaviors. So we label them as bad like as a culture and you know, and some of them are dangerous and need to be addressed or Sure. I'm not saying that they don't need us, but we label them as these sort of bad behaviors. But what might be really triggering to me, for example, spitting is something that like grosses me out. Like, ah, that's a really hard one for me to deal with. But if my kid is really upset and is calling me all sorts of horrible names like to me, yeah, he could be calling me, you know, a book end or a lampshade, like, it just doesn't penetrate, right? It doesn't hurt me, don't feel the sharpness, the pain it I don't take it personally. Whereas somebody else might be able to get really playful with spitting. And it's like, whatever this is goofy. But the words can really cut. It's different for everybody.

Penny Williams 5:34

Yeah. And our own stuff is what's playing into that. Right?

Tosha Schore 5:38


Penny Williams 5:39

So you had mentioned before we started that you have three things that parents need to understand when they're dealing with these different types of aggression. Do you want to walk us through those three things?

Tosha Schore 5:51

Sure. The main thing that I feel is really, really important for parents of kids who are struggling with aggression to understand is that aggression is almost always fear. It's fear in disguise. And the main reason that that's important to understand is that it helps us to access empathy. Right? If we see in front of us a child who is bad, or, you know, has something wrong with him, that's hard to move towards. Right? Yeah, like, let me get the hell out of here. I don't want to be on this. This is horrible. What's wrong with this kid? What did I do to deserve this kid? What did I do to create this monster, all of those kinds of things. But if we can recognize that that child is scared me, you can just imagine how we behave when we see a scared child. We have empathy for that child, we move towards that child, we kind of we think about, like, in what ways might I help this child to feel better.

And so it's important that we understand that there is fear, almost always underlying aggression, and almost always sort of moving along hand in hand with fear is a sense of being alone. So that child, but most likely feels quite isolated in that moment. So I do want parents understand that and fear, by the way, could be real or it could be perceived. Yeah. So we tend to judge our kids like, well, there's nothing to be scared of, like, you know, Why is he acting this way? There's nothing like we're here, we're here we're loving, like, there's nothing wrong. So it might not be a real fear that we could see. But it might be perceived fear that comes from a past trauma, like a traumatic birth, or a separation coming from, you know, an adoption or a move to a new place, or a separation of parents or anything like that, or just from not having control over their life. Yeah. But it might also be real, right? Like, sometimes you can imagine a scenario like a playground where a child, you know, your kid, you know, hits a stick out of another kid's hand, and that kid gets hurt, right? Well, before that happened, your kid was sort of poked with that stick, right? And it felt threatening, it did feel threatening that it doesn't mean that the response was appropriate, or one that we're going for. But we can understand that his body sensed fear and reacted. Yeah.

Penny Williams 8:20

This brings up an example for me from television, actually, The Amazing Race this last time, the last season, there was a woman who had to walk across this high wire over this canyon, and she had a fear of heights. And she was a really calm and gentle person. And when she got on that high wire, she was lashing out she was yelling, she was saying ugly things like this whole other sort of not personality. But this whole other energy came out of her and it was totally from that fear. And what I kept thinking, as I was watching, it is Wow, her nervous system is really dysregulated right now she is really afraid and really having a hard time, right. But it was a very clear visual illustration of how much fear can sometimes make us react aggressively.

Tosha Schore 9:19

Absolutely. I'm always thinking about will I write another book at some point? Will it be about aggression? And I play around with titles? I always come back to this title. I'm not scary. I'm scared.

Penny Williams 9:33

Um, yes. I love that. I think that book needs to be written. Made by somebody else. Maybe me. Not this year. Yeah. And was there a third thing to understand?

Tosha Schore 9:47

Yeah, actually. So that was the first thing that aggression is really fear in disguise. And just another quick example I like to share is like if our child is physically hurt, like they have a broken arm for Example. And they have to write something for school, let's say we don't get angry at them that they can't hold the pencil because their arms and a caste, we get creative about how to help that, we might suggest that they tell us what they want to write, and we write it for them, or they use voice recognition software or something. But we're not like getting angry at them and forcing them to write with their arm in a cast, right. But we get confused when the challenge is emotional, but we can't see it.

But why kids are struggling with aggression, and there's fear under there, it will help greatly if we can see that they're scared and think to ourselves, okay, how can we help? How can we adapt in this moment up and create an environment that will allow them to succeed and to move through the challenging behaviors? So that's the first thing aggressions fear in disguise. The second thing is that when I work with parents, I'm always insisting that they take on this truth I like to call it, which is that their child is always doing the best that they can in every moment. Yes. And that means all the moments that we talked about at the beginning, right, like spitting in your face, calling you a nasty name, pushing their brother grabbing the toy from the friend, okay? Even in those moments, your child is doing their best.

And we need to recognize that every bit of that aggression is a call for help. And it's our job as the adults with the fully developed brains to come up with a plan to respond. So even if you're out there, your parent, you're listening to this, and you're going well, you know, he is not doing his best, you know, yesterday, he was able to control himself, he didn't hit his sister, not once. Okay, that's amazing. And today is a new day. And he's got a whole new reality that he's dealing with. And in today's moment, he wasn't able to control themselves like he was yesterday. Yeah, this was the best that he can do. When we do that it again, it helps us stay in that place of compassion for our child, rather than, you know, making him the bad guy.

Penny Williams 12:05

Yeah. And it's so crucial. And I find that it changes everything. If you can just meet the outburst with compassion and empathy. And reminding yourself that your kids having a hard time, it really changes the way that you're gonna move forward after that.

Tosha Schore 12:25

Absolutely. And I just want to say out loud, because a lot of people don't want to talk about this, there's a safety issue, I get that there's the issue. And we do as parents have to first and foremost, keep ourselves and everybody else safe. And that is sometimes you know, loud and messy, and all the things.

Penny Williams 12:41

Absolutely. But it's paramount. I think, you know, when we talk about these sorts of things, we always have to give that caveat that safety trumps everything. If your child's not safe or you're not safer, others in the room aren't safe, then you have to do what you have to do to make sure everybody's safe first.

Tosha Schore 12:57

And emotional regulation of us as adults is probably the number one thing we have to focus on when we're dealing with a child who's struggling with the aggression. Because if we are coming towards that child while they're struggling with our own upset, it's like, you know, pouring lighter fluid on a fire. Yep, I'd much rather a parent walk away, if they can't see that child's goodness, if they can't separate that child's goodness, from the behaviors that are spilling out in that moment, I'd rather that parent walked away, then move into the situation and create me to sort of more trauma more hurts more upset, more for everybody to heal from and they're going to feel bad about how they behaved.

Penny Williams 13:38

Yeah, I call it co escalation.

Tosha Schore 13:40

Exactly. I'd rather you know, I'd rather something broke. I'd rather the child, you know, threw something in a broke van. I went in as a parent, and, you know, shamed that child or berated that child or screamed or physically hurt that child, right? I would much prefer that just the thing got broken. Now, that was not the ideal, but it might be the first step for some people, while you are figuring out how you're going to be able to stay calm in the face of these explosions.

Penny Williams 14:09

I'm so glad that you said the first step. And that you're leading to this idea that we can't change it all at once. Right? And that we have to take small steps sometimes to make some incremental changes.

Tosha Schore 14:24

Absolutely. But the steps like they're small, but they work pretty quickly, like parents can make huge progress, help their kids make huge progress, I should say. And that, you know, the third thing that I want to say that it's important that parents have to understand in order to stop their child's aggression, is that you know, you as the parent, you have the power to help your boy Well, sorry, am I saying boy, you know, to help your child right, and really only like we spend a lot of time those of us who have little ones who are struggling. We're looking outwards often you know what's wrong with him and who can help him How can we fix him? And really, we are the best person for the job. We know him or her like we know our child better than anybody else does. Yeah, we know the nuances of the behaviors, we can learn to track the behaviors and understand you know, when to expect them, we have a love for them like nobody else has. And honestly, I always say, like, no one else is gonna take the job. It's really, it really is on us. We can't really hire out even if we have the means.

Penny Williams 15:26

Yeah. Yeah, I think, you know, the turning point for me, definitely, in my own parenting. And they see this in the parents I work with, was when I could really understand that I had more influence over the situation than I felt like I did, yes. And that that influence had to come from me being calm, and empathetic, and knowing that my kid was doing the best that they could in that moment. And that is exactly what you're talking about here. You know, the work so often is us the adults, it's not the kids, you brought up the word fix it, and we can't fix it. But we all start in that mode, I think as parents because we don't want our kids to struggle and suffer. And so we start in fix it mode. And then when we can't fix it, I think we enter into that taking it personally mode. And that just snowballs into starting to co escalate and making things worse and then not understanding and blaming our kids because we don't understand. So these three things that you've outlined are pretty big turning points, I think, as you said, you know, you can get some pretty big results. And that's really where it comes from. It's that work that we're doing as the adult in the room.

Tosha Schore 16:46

Yeah, yeah. And I want to add that in tandem. We want to be learning tools that we can actually implement in our parenting life, that are going to be connective, and they're going to help our child move beyond those aggressive behaviors. So it's not that we're not being pragmatic. We are, but we can't start from a place of fixing. Right, right. Yeah, we have to start from a place of connection.

Penny Williams 17:16

Yeah. Because if our kids don't feel safe and calm and connected, they can't learn new strategies and skills. No, physiologically they can't.

Tosha Schore 17:25

And they can't stop the aggression. Physiologically, it's their automatic response.

Penny Williams 17:35

So what are some of those strategies?

Tosha Schore 17:37

Yeah. So the first thing I would say is that it's important that the tendency is to want to start with a lot of pretty harsh limits, when there's aggression going on. And my suggestion is actually not to start there. And for sure, if let me back up one more step, because I like to take really small steps. Yes, I want to start out Absolutely. Before I talk a little bit about what to do. Sometimes the first step is stopping what isn't working? Yeah. So if you as a parent are, for example, sending your child away, when they are showing you that aggression, right, so timeouts, you know, sending them into a corner, cool off place, that isolation is likely going to make the behaviors worse, we talked, we talked about, you know, isolation and feeling alone, often coming hand in hand with fear.

And so we know our child's scared, we actually want to contradict that feeling of isolation, not compound it. And when we send them away, we're compounding it. So it might be the first step is to just stay with your child rather than to send them away. Or it might be to get yourself some support so that you're not feeling so alone. Like you don't feel like a pariah, right? Like you understand that there are other families struggling with this type of thing, so that you're not feeling so ashamed yourself. Another thing that oftentimes parents do is that we talk way too much. Yes. And talking isn't gonna get you through, it's not going to help the aggression go away. It's not that your child thinks it's okay to behave in these ways. He doesn't think it's okay to spit or head or break the thing.

He knows that it's not. So talking isn't working. So the first step might be just zipping it honestly, like just learning to listen more than talk. Yeah, absolutely. And the other thing that I would say is a big one that might be a first step to let go of is this idea that we take away connection to punish or to teach a lesson right so similar sending away but it could look all kinds of ways like it might look like you're supposed to go to the zoo with your kid in the afternoon but then he has a huge upset and kicks his Brother, and you say, you know, if you do that one more time, we're not going to the zoo. And he does it one more time. And then you don't go to the zoo and everybody stays home mad, and there's 12 more aggressive episodes throughout the day and you're in a bad mood. He's in a bad mood brother's in a bad mood. Yep. And the reality is, is I don't believe that it makes sense to connect to the zoo and kicking the brother, right? Because it's not a choice the child's making. It's a struggle they're having,

Penny Williams 20:29

I'm really glad you brought up choice too, because we talk about that a lot. And it plays hand in hand with, you know, understanding the autonomic nervous system and, and the biology behind behavior. So often, it's that automatic response, the kid didn't sit back and okay, what am I going to do now to show my mom how mad I am? I'm going to kick my brother that'll show her. That's not happening. It's not a choice necessarily. And I would say most often, it's not. Do you agree with that?

Tosha Schore 20:59

I absolutely agree with that. Yeah. And I think like, the litmus test, I'll tell parents is like, you know, if you were to sit with your child, when they're feeling close to you, and you're feeling close to them, and you were to ask them, whatever, sort of less than you were thinking you needed to teach them, right, like, do you think that it's okay to call me? You know, stupid, whatever, you know, they're not gonna say yes, they, I mean, they might say yes, and like, goofy kind of a way or to sort of, you know, push your buttons or see how you react to a thing, right? They know, right? From wrong.

Penny Williams 21:29

Yeah. Yeah. And they don't enjoy it. No, you know, I remind parents all the time, when your child is intense, and melting down and having a really hard time, it's not fun for them. It's not any more fun for them than it is for us. It's not something that they want to do, or they want to repeat. And I think really reminding yourself of that, then helps you to stay in that mindset, that it's not personal. And it's not necessarily a choice. And then you're able to address it in that more compassionate, empathetic way. And to be able just to stay calm, you know, my parenting monitor for years now has been, he's not giving me a hard time he's having a hard time. If I could just look at the situation, take one breath, and say, he's not giving me a hard time, then that was that reminder, right, that I need to be able to stay focused on what was really happening for him. And it wasn't that he just really wanted to be mean to his mom, was that he was having a hard time with something. Maybe he was, you know, fearing something right. And all these things that you've been talking about?

Tosha Schore 22:39

Perfect. Yeah, I completely agree. And another mindset shift, and other just a sort of rephrasing that parents sometimes find helpful is to move from won't to camp. Yeah. So your child, you know, he's again, you know, upset that you put the sauce on the spaghetti, and he shoves us plate of spaghetti under the Foreign spiders all over the place, right. And to be able to think to rephrase from he wants to make my life miserable, and he's trying to make me mad, or he's trying to get attention or letting this you know, these and all these negative things that we say. And we transform that into a can't In other words, he couldn't figure out how to peacefully share that he would prefer to not have sauce on his pasta. Right, right. It's easier to not take it personally.

Penny Williams 23:34

Yeah, I love that. And it can be so challenging to not take it personally. It's a process of practice. I'm definitely down on my knees taking it personally for a moment. Oh, yeah. cleaning it up. Oh, yeah. Yeah. But you know, I think it's so powerful for us to say that to you that, you know, we've been doing this work for a while we help other parents and families. And we still struggle with it sometimes, too. We're human beings.

Tosha Schore 23:59

Yeah. Although I will, you know, I do want to share that I got into this world when my kids were younger. And now I've got three boys myself, and they're 20. And just about to be 18. And almost 16. And, I mean, I could relate to many, if not most of the situations that parents come to me with. And believe me, I've heard everything. Yeah. And that is history. In our family, I mean, aggression. That's just not going to happen. That is not our reality anymore. Yeah, things change. And I see families move through it all the time. It's not a quick fix. It's not a pill. But if you adopt parenting strategies based in connection rather than trying to have control over this child who's struggling, which won't work, right, that's when we isolate and we send them away and we shame them and blame them and all of that and it doesn't work. That's why I said the first step might be letting go of those things. When we move towards connection. You will see change and some change will happen quite quickly.

Penny Williams 24:55

Yeah, agreed. My son is 20 now so yeah, we live in much too. different life than when he was younger, for sure. Things do get better once you learn how to approach them in this way, honestly, when you really understand them and and you're approaching it with more compassion and connection, and really prioritizing the relationship, that's another thing that I learned along the way that it had to be all about the relationship. And if things were going to damage the relationship that maybe they weren't worth it, they weren't worth Yep, bickering about they weren't worth pushing over. And that creates a lot of change pretty dramatically, too.

Tosha Schore 25:32

Yeah, yeah, I did want to say, you know, you had asked about what to do. And I know, I focused on the first steps of perhaps pulling back on the things that aren't working. And I do want to say that there is lots that we can do as parents, but coming in with harsh limits, at first is probably not the best way to go. Especially if you've got a kid who's struggling with aggression, they're probably getting a lot of attention for it, from adults in their lives. And that feels yucky to them. So the place to start would actually be by building or strengthening the connection, the relationship that you currently have with your child. And that can be a practice a special time. I mean, that's what you know, we write about in our book, listen, and at the end, I'll be giving you access to my 10 Day reconnect, which will walk you through that, it could also be really anything that, you know, you both enjoyed doing together. So anything that you know, you laugh together, when you do it, there tends to be you know, less contention and more joy, we want to up that we want to up those things, we want to create as many opportunities as possible where he can lead or she Amir tries sorry. I'm like, yeah, um, so my blue world where your child can lead? Yeah, so a special time is a great practice. And I do want me to explain a little bit what it is.

Penny Williams 26:58

Yeah, you can, yeah, for sure.

Tosha Schore 27:00

Okay, so so special timing, like I said, I'll teach you about it in the reconnect, or there's a chapter on it and listen, but essentially, it's a unique kind of one on one time, where you set a timer for a certain amount of time, and it might be five minutes, or it might be 45 minutes, I would start with a shorter amount of time, if you're new to it. Yeah. And set a timer, like I said, and then we would name it. And it could be special time. But it could also be anything, I've got clients all over the world who call it all kinds of different things in different languages. Yeah, and that's fine. And the reason there are a couple of women continue the explanation. So what you do that as the parent, your job is to pour your attention into your child, so to have no distractions, so you turn off your phone, and you couldn't do it at a time when you were responsible for another child, or you were expecting a package to arrive or a doctor to call or something like that, you need to have undivided attention.

And your job is really to just be pleased with your child during that time. And to follow their lead. So it's a time for ieq, you would say, Hey, I've got 10 minutes for special time, we can do whatever you want. And then you follow their lead and you do whatever they want to do. And their job is to lead you through their world you get it's a really a nice window into their world when you're not saying oh no, no, we're not going to do that. Or, you know, don't waste the, you know, flour, I need that for the bread later or whatever. It's like no, actually, they've decided they wanted to cook up some concoction that's going to end up in the garbage, right? It's got like dog food and flour and coloring and whatever you know, and your job is to just be pleased with it. And that's why one of the reasons why the timer is key.

Because, you know, we can't be calm and cool and collected and certainly not pleased with our child, if they're going to be throwing everything in the kitchen into a big giant bowl for ever. Right. But if we've got a 10 minute timer, can we be pleased with their curiosity? Can we be pleased with their creativity? Wow, what a cool idea. I never thought to, you know, mix dog food and butter together? I don't know, you know? So really, that's what it is. And then when the timer is done, you say, you know, thank you. Thanks for letting me do special time with you. And you move on. And obviously there are nuances and things that can happen in questions that parents have. And I address pretty much all of those in the reconnect that they can access through my website. But that's the idea is like, let's start out by strengthening the connections special times. Kind of a nice way to practice not having control over your child. Hmm, yeah. Right.

Penny Williams 29:37

It's not just for them.

Tosha Schore 29:38

No, it's not. And so often, I'm so glad you said that. Because so often parents will say, you know, when I started special time, I was like, oh, it's kind of a drag and it felt like it was all for him. And they report back that it's amazing for them. Like it changes their ability increases their ability, I should say, to see through the behavior was and into, like that sweet child that's underneath the behaviors, because they get a glimpse of it more often they have a regular practice of special time where they're getting those glimpses of that sweet child.

Penny Williams 30:12

Yeah. And the more positive interactions we have, the more positive interactions we expect, yes, just from a neurological standpoint, which works for us as much as our kids. So the more good time that we spend with our kid without things blowing up, then the more sort of at ease we are and willing to spend more time and adjusting that expectation that we can have some quality time together, that actually feels good for everyone. It is possible.

Tosha Schore 30:42

Yes, it helps to change our mindset.

Penny Williams 30:45

Any other strategies you want to share? I know that everything that we talk about, obviously, is in generalizations, and all kids are different, and all families are different. But I find that often there's some sort of key aspects that everyone can take and run with and adjust for their own family. And I think you know, that special time especially is one of those, it can look different for everyone. But there's kind of this core setup to how you do it and what the rules are. Because we've talked about what is going on. And we haven't yet said the piece about still changing that behavior. We've said, Well, you have to understand it. And then you know, discipline isn't really going to be helpful for it right? And stop talking so much. But we haven't said like, if my kid keeps throwing something at me every time I ask him to do a chore? How do we work on changing that behavior after we've stopped doing some things, and we've worked really hard to understand, and we've met them with empathy and compassion. So that special time is one of those things, what else can we do? As far as like that skill building and that transformation?

Tosha Schore 31:51

So there's a puzzle I would say is sort of a pathway that I teach parents in my aggression course, which goes start out by setting yourself up for success, right? So what is it that you need to do to upgrade or change your environment, such that you're going to have more success in addressing the new way that you're looking to parent? Okay, then we look at infusing connection with special time and other means, then we look at what I call playing detective, because so often, when parents come to me, they say things like, it happens all the time. It's like morning till night, it never stops, or it happens out of the blue, just, you know, I turn around and boom, he kicks me. And, you know, I've been doing this a long time. And I have yet to meet a family who when they played Detective and started tracking what was going on, and when they didn't find a pattern.

And there's something very empowering, right, because we're feeling helpless and hopeless. It actually it's not all the time. And it's not out of the blue. And it tends to happen, right when he comes home from school in the afternoon, or it tends to happen when I'm preparing dinner, and he and his brother are playing in the living room, or it's you know, whatever or right when I get back from a business trip, I mean, there is a pattern. And when we can find that we feel more empowered, and our confidence grows. And then probably the biggest piece, but again, not the place to start necessarily, is parents have to become like superheroes of limit setting, you got to get really good at setting loving limits and keeping everyone say, so in those moments, you can insert yourself between the two kids that are hurting one another actually physically keep them apart, not blame one or the other of them, but trust in their ability to repair and learn how to listen in a way that can support them to repair the relationship. But limits are gonna be like, that's what we end up spending the most time on. And it takes the longest amount of time to really, really get super super good at them.

And you have to realize that your child isn't gonna like the limits that you're setting. Of course, that's an expectation that's unreasonable. I think a lot of parents have like, they'll say, okay, but when I, you know, move in and pull them back, so he can't be kicking his brother. Like he gets more mad. Yeah, that's okay. That's okay. It's still your job as the parent to keep that brother safe. Right? It's okay. You doesn't have a like it. As long as you're calm. That's okay. Yeah, so setting limits is just huge in so many ways. I mean, way more than I could get into here. And then the last step that we talked about is play. And you got to just play like your life depends on it, because it does depend on it. It's kind of related to the special time we talked about the beginning or at the beginning of this segment. It's a real good way to build connection, play and play with aggression. Doesn't there's some kid means that you can respond playfully in the heat of the moment. And you're going to have to figure out, like you said, Every family is different, every situation is different. So you might be able to get silly in the heat of the moment. And that might dissipate the tension and you know, allow the situation to shift directions and go better, more often.

Play is a proactive strategy. So I encourage parents, like with the use of special time to up their rough and tumble play it just in general, in their relationship with their child. So pillow fights and wrestling matches and chasing and hide and seek and I'm talking about things that you get, you know, sweaty doing, and you laugh when you're doing it together. Because that builds connection and laughter, by the way, also releases fears. And like we've talked about in the very beginning, again, a good way to sort of come full circle is aggression. So often fear in disguise, but the fears are so intense and big, like almost like terrors, yeah, that it's hard for the child, oftentimes to access the real feelings underneath, like the sorrows of the separation, or, you know, the trauma of being terrified that you're not going to survive the birth or whatever it is. But play is kind of like a just a nice, easy way to sort of chip away at that fear. Because light laughter is letting go of some of those fears that are kind of floating around on top, not the deep ones. But it's kind of just a subtle way to peel away the outer layers of the onion, if you will. Yeah, it can really soften up a child's behavior when you up the play in general. And I'm not talking about sitting down and playing Candyland. I mean, that's great as well. But I'm talking about like, physical rough and tumble play and jumping on the trampoline together and, you know, pushing each other down, and all these kinds of things. Yeah, sliding down the stick on a mattress.

Penny Williams 36:57

And it's interesting, because I think a lot of people would think that the recommendation would be if you have an aggressive child not to do rough and tumble play that somehow that would encourage that behavior.

Tosha Schore 37:09

No, I mean, yes, you're correct. But no, that's not what I see.

Penny Williams 37:16

I think that that's just a myth that's out there. You know, that has been perpetuated for a long time.

Tosha Schore 37:23

I mean, if you think about the last time that you really laughed with somebody, belly laugh, right, you giggle I mean, you felt close to that person. Yeah, it builds connection. Yeah, yeah, I love it. And the closer that we feel, the more connection that we have, the more connection that her child feels to us, the more able, right, can't versus woad, right there, the more able they're going to be to stop the aggression in the heat of the moment, connection

Penny Williams 37:50

is everything, everything. That is what I've learned over the years connection is literally everything. It makes everything different, you know, is transformative. Absolutely. And we have to focus on it, I think above all else, at least at the get go. I know there's so much more to talk about around this topic. But unfortunately, we are out of time together. But I just want to thank you again, for really sharing some of yourself and some of your experience to help other people. It's so valuable. And I know that our listeners, many, many of them are struggling with aggression, and now have a better path forward. We will link up that free short course that you were talking about the reconnect to Nick worth in the show notes, as well as Tosha's website and other ways that you can connect and learn more from her. Maybe work with her as well. And all of that is going to be at parentingADHDandautism.com/210 for episode 210. And I thank you again. And I hope that we can continue to collaborate and help families along this journey that we've been on for a while.

Tosha Schore 39:08

Thank you so much for inviting me on Penny. It's been a pleasure.

Penny Williams 39:13

Absolutely. I will see everyone on the next episode. Take good care. Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingADHDandautism.com and thebehaviorrevolution.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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!

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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…

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