218: Check Your Judgment

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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You want to help your child. So you make some assumptions as to why they’re upset, why they’re not getting things done, why they’re avoiding or disengaging… You show empathy and validation with that info, still trying to help, and then your kid gets more upset and you can’t figure it out because you feel that you did everything right.

The hurdle you tripped over may be assumptions and judgment. We have an opinion about why the behavior is happening and act on it as fact, when it’s really just a guess, at best. This causes so many issues.

Tune in to this episode of the Beautifully Complex podcast to learn what assumptions you should make and how to check your judgment so you can actually be helpful more often than not.


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Penny Williams 0:03

Sometimes we're making assumptions as to why they're upset, why they're not getting things done, why they're being avoidant, either disengaging and we're trying to help, but we're getting it wrong. And the situation is escalating, right? We're getting it wrong and our kid is escalating. You're not listening to me. 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.

Welcome back to the beautifully complex Podcast. Today I want to talk to you about judgment, judgment and assumptions. As human beings, we are very judgmental creatures. And we're actually wired that way for protection. We are wired to judge what is going on around us to see if we are in danger, or if we are safe. And so we naturally judge, but we do it too much at this point. We are constantly judging. And sometimes we get it wrong. And I would argue very often, we get it wrong. And then that causes a lot of problems between us and our kids very often, right? Because we assume we know why they're upset, we judge the situation. We sometimes we make assumptions like they're being lazy, when actually there's something else going on.

We make assumptions to why they're upset, why they're not getting things done, why they're avoiding or disengaging. And often we're doing that because we want to help mean we genuinely want to help our kids. And so we are analyzing situations, we're analyzing their emotions, their reactions, their behavior, to try to figure out how to help how to better a situation. But what happens is that we just get it wrong so often. And sometimes we really are being judgmental, rather than being helpful. And this has really come to my attention recently, through a TV show that I've been watching television is my self care is how I check my brain out at night, and give myself a rest and some respite. And I've been watching this new show where the main character has dyslexia. He's an adult, he is an investigator, he is very successful at what he does. But it comes out very quickly that he really struggles with reading even as an adult. And they kind of show in the show that the words jump around and get fuzzy and, and he really struggles and it's very frustrating for him. And they also sort of end up revealing and talking about the fact that his parents thought that he was just stupid, honestly, they would call him stupid.

He was raised in an abusive household, unfortunately, and that's not what I'm talking about here. But, you know, they would ask him to go get a particular can of soup out of the pantry. And what would happen, he would bring the wrong can because he couldn't really read them, even though he was of age to read because of his dyslexia. And so he would be called Stupid, he would be punished and extreme things happen, unfortunately. But as I was watching this, I realized that, you know, they were judging that behavior in the way that we talk about not judging behavior, right? They were judging it through that behavior lens, that character flaw, there's something wrong, there's some laziness, some stupidity, right. We tend to really go to the negative when we're using that behavior based lens. And instead, we're supposed to be using our brain base lens, right? Her brain based lens is saying, Hey, what's going on here? Really? I see that it looks like, you know, this kid isn't trying. It looks like my kid is really angry because the kids were picking on him. It looks like my kid just really doesn't want to do homework, because he'd rather be playing video games. You know, it looks like those things. That's the behavior based lens. And then we add judge bent to it. When we're talking about that brain based lens, though, we're leaving the judgment out of it. Because the first thing we're looking at is, what else could be going on here? You're asking yourself, if it's not laziness, what else could it be? If it's not avoidance?

What else could it be? If it's not hurt feelings? What else could it be? Right? And so, instead of making assumptions and telling kids how we think they feel, because so often that backfires. Because we just get it wrong. Frankly, we're not our kids, we don't live in their heads. And so we get it wrong. But instead of doing that, we leave the door more open to possibility. So we're asking, you know, I see you're really upset. Tell me about it. I see, you're really upset? Do you want to talk about it, I see that you're really upset. Sometimes I get really upset like that to where I just can't talk about it. But I'm here for when you're ready. Because we know that when we do talk about it, it makes it a little easier to process and to feel better. It's really, really important, again, that we're leaving that door open to possibility. What else could it be? And sometimes we are very certain that we are right about what's going on, you know, if your kid is screaming at you, I hate you throwing a plate at your head, slamming things, punching the wall, it feels really obvious. What's going on. There's an anger management issue. Right? And maybe there is some clearly there is an emotional regulation issue, right? We're not doubting some of that. What we're saying here is that we have to look deeper than that.

Why is that an issue? Okay, my kid is struggling with emotional regulation. Why are they struggling with emotional regulation? Are they having an unmet need right now? Or is it simply a lagging skill that we still need to work on? That's so much more helpful than saying, My kid is being ugly, my kid is being a jerk. My kid doesn't like me. None of that is helpful. It might be how you feel. And that is valid. By the way. I'm not saying that how you feel isn't valid. I'm saying there's more going on, than how it's making you feel. And getting to the bottom of that is the only way to be truly helpful to our kids. We have to check our judgment, we have to check our assumptions. If we want to be truly helpful to our kids. It is all about getting curious and digging deeper. You know, we talk about putting on your brain base lens. You can also think of it as putting on a detective hat, getting out your magnifying glass, right like that visual of investigating what is going on here. I can't just take things at face value. I have to understand more. That's how we help our kids. So sometimes we're making assumptions as to why they're upset, why they're not getting things done, why they're being avoidant, why they're disengaging, and we're trying to help, but we're getting it wrong. And the situation is escalating, right? We're getting it wrong, and our kid is escalating. You're not listening to me. You hate me.

They storm off, they break something. And you're just left standing and scratching your head, right? Like, hey, I came in here, thinking that I really wanted to help that I totally get it that sometimes I get really angry too. And my kid just stormed off and broke things and slam things and won't speak to me at all. Now, what happened? Right, like, I can recall many times where I was literally left standing there all alone, going, what the hell just happened? Because I totally thought I was in it. And I was really on top of things. I was doing all the right things and saying all the right things. And it turned out that I wasn't and more often than not, it was because I was assuming the wrong things. You know, I was reminded by Brenda Mahan recently in one of our summit sessions, that we do have some assumptions that we shouldn't be making assumptions that are okay. And one of those assumptions is that our kids are always doing the best they can.

And this is something that Ross Greene teaches us as well. while kids are always doing the best that they can, because they want to do well. And so if you can always come into a situation, assuming that your child is doing the best that they can in that moment, that automatically is putting on that brain base lens, right? Automatically, you're looking deeper, and you're leaving the judgment and the other assumptions out of it, right. And I'll say, too, it's very hard to not make assumptions about what's going on for your kid. It's very, very hard. But so often, we end up hurting, instead of helping, we really have to check those judgments and assumptions, we really have to just take a breath, and look at a situation much more objectively, knowing that our kids are doing the best that they can.

I know some of you are thinking, nope, sometimes my kid really isn't doing the best they can. Sometimes they are being a pain in the ass on purpose. Sometimes they really are trying to make me miserable. And what I would say to that is, you might be right. Every kid does push your buttons, sometimes it's part of being a kid. But it doesn't hurt anything to assume that they're doing the best that they can, in that moment. You're not letting them get away with anything. You're not teaching them to misbehave or treat you poorly. You're just being a compassionate parent. And understanding that no individual can be their best all the time. You can't be your best all the time. I certainly can't be my best all the time. I lose it sometimes. And I have been obsessively working on being the best parent, I could be for a nerd diversion kid for almost 15 years now. 15 years, and I still lose it sometimes. I'm still not doing my best sometimes. That's what it is to be a human being. Because nobody's perfect. And so yeah, sometimes you're gonna assume that your kid is doing the absolute best they can.

And maybe they're not. Maybe they're on 50% that day. But then why is that? Why are they only on 50% That day, because maybe their spoons are used up their tank is low, they don't have the resources to do their very best at that moment. So again, you're not letting him get away with anything. You're just letting them be human. You're letting them be a human being. What could be better than that, really. Because what happens then, and we talk about this all the time, I'm constantly constantly talking about this. We have to be human in front of our children, we have to stop the charade of perfection. There is no such thing. No buddy is perfect. We all make mistakes. But here's the problem with letting our kids think that we are perfect that you know, we never show them, that we make mistakes, that we do things wrong sometimes that we have a bad day sometimes, or we hold them to the very, very highest standard all the time. That teaches them that they're not good enough period. When you hold kids to a standard of perfection. When you have your kids thinking that you are perfect, that nothing goes wrong for you, you never make a mistake. Your child is going to feel like they do not measure up that there is something wrong with them. They will have no confidence, they will have no self esteem. And at some point, they will give up. They will absolutely give up, wouldn't you?

If someone is constantly asking you to be perfect, and they look perfect. Everyone around you. It's so easy for them to do everything and get it right. And you feel like you're the only one who can't get it right sometimes what's going to happen? You're going to stop trying and you're going to feel really bad about you. You're going to decide that it's you. That is the problem. And actually, the problem is that the people around you have not shown you that they're human beings and they are fallible too. And that life is messy. and complex and complicated, that emotions are messy and complex and complicated. Our kids need to see that they don't need us to be judging what is going on for them when it is messy and complicated.

They need us to say, Hey, it's okay. You're human. And this is the journey. And it can be hard. And I want to help you, but I'm not going to assume what's going on for you and what is going to help you. I'm not going to make those assumptions anymore. I'm going to be here with you and for you. And I'm going to get curious. And I'm going to help you get to the bottom of it. And I'm going to help you build skills or have your needs met, I'm going to see you and make you feel heard and respected. I'm going to validate what's going on for you. Because it's so super important that you feel validated and seen and heard. Because that's how we do our best, right. When we feel good, we do good. I know, I sound like a broken record with that.

But it's so very much at the core of our lives of our human experience. When we feel good, we do good. If we don't feel good, we cannot do good, we cannot do our best. Think about that for yourself. When you have a bad day and you come home, and you have kids who need help with homework, they need dinner, they need a bath, they need a bedtime routine, a story read to them, and you have had a day your tank is empty, your spoons are gone. Are you going to be able to do your very best for your child that evening? No, and I'm not judging you. I've been there. We all have those days, when you don't feel good, you can't do that much good.

You can fake it some you can not lose it at your kids, right, you can sort of keep it together long enough to get through that evening. And what's really important is that, then you practice some self care, right? Then you get the break that you need. And you recharge, and you know, letting your kids see that, again, it's so valuable. It's so valuable for them to see that when you have a bad day, it's hard for you to and that's okay, that's okay. Show them that you ask for help. If you're co parenting with someone in your house, tag out sometimes when you need to. If you're not co parenting, you can tell your kid that you just need a bit of a regulation break, that you're having a hard time and you need a break. Why is there a problem with telling our kids that I don't get it, I don't know why we hide being human from our kids.

Because what you're doing there is you're modeling for your child, that next time they're having a hard time, maybe it's a really good idea to take a break for a minute, right? Because we can't problem solve. When we're super emotional and flooded. Our emotional brain or our survival brain has taken over our thinking brain is now inaccessible, we cannot problem solve. So there's nothing to be done in that moment that is going to be beneficial. And so again, when we start with assuming that our kids are doing the best they can always that we are doing the best we can always there's no room for judgment. There's no room for assumptions, we've automatically put on that brain base lens. And now we're going to do the best we can for our kid. So in those moments when your kid is emotional, things are intense. You can first take a breath.

This is something that I learned from Robert Cox, a therapist in the Midwest here in the US, who said, just take a breath, and exhale with a whole lot of empathy for your kid, a really empathetic, you know, wow, this really is hard sort of breath. Be careful that it's not an exasperated exhale. Because that's easy to do in those moments, but a very empathetic breath, and then work on what's happening. And then, you know, go forth with that brain based lens. Ask questions get curious. And if your kid doesn't do well with question chatons you can give them prompts. You know, again, it's not giving the answers, it's guiding our kids to get those answers for themselves. And when we're doing that, again, there's no room for judgment there, I noticed that you're really getting very angry, tell me about it, what's going on, tell me what's happening.

And your child may shut you down, let's be real here, your child may shut you down, especially at first, if this is a different pattern for the way that you address these situations that you talk to your kid. At first, it's change, it's hard. And they're going to be thrown off because they're not expecting that. And they may say to you, I don't know what's happening, or you know what's happening, or I don't want to talk about it. Everything that you're trying to say is a signal. If they say, I don't know, it's a signal, they don't know. They need help in figuring out their emotions and labeling how they're feeling, and being able to process it. If they say, you know, I don't want to talk about it, they are not ready to talk about it. That is your cue to stop talking. That is your cue to say, I want to help you and I'm here for you whenever you're ready. Period done. You know, if you have a hugger or if you have a kid who needs you to be there, be there.

Be there without judgment, you can be present, and be very, very helpful. Without ever saying a word. Use the signals that your child is giving you. Check your judgment, assume that your kid is always doing the best they can and start from that place. That is a really good place to start. That is where we should strive to always start from. I hope this has been really helpful to you. My challenge for you is to take those three steps to assume that your child is doing the best they can check your judgment and take those signals and cues from your child. Remind yourself each morning for the next few weeks, that you want to practice those three steps every day and make that change. It will make a monumental, monumental difference for you for your kid and for your family. And that's it for me today. I hope it's been helpful. And I will see everyone next time. Please 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 at 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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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.

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