058: How to Know If Something’s Wrong: A Your Child Explained Episode

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll on down to the bottom and click the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

My younger brothers and I – I'm in the upper right with the Dorothy Hamill haircut.
My younger brothers and I – I’m in the upper right with the Dorothy Hamill haircut.

Today I’m exploring inside the mind of a child – a very specific child, me, in fact – to help you figure out how to know if something is wrong. Click here or go to weturnedoutokay.com/058 for notes to today’s episode!

As a seven-year-old girl (that’s my little brothers and I in that picture to the right), I was sexually abused. Just once – I think of it as kind of a date rape situation – and by someone that I only came into contact with a few times over my childhood, thank goodness! Still, the experience had lasting repercussions; he threatened my life if I ever told and between the actual acts and the life-threatening, I was well into adulthood before I could think of myself as a survivor instead of a victim. (This book, The Courage to Heal, was instrumental in my recovery and I recommend it to you if you’re recovering from childhood sexual trauma.)

I tried to tell my folks, as a young teenager, but for a variety of reasons they just didn’t hear me. In my early 20s we finally all got on the same page – I tell the whole story as it unfolded in today’s’s episode – but even in the years that my parents did not know what had happened to me, they saw that something was wrong based on my behavior.

At age 7, I went from being a relatively carefree little kid to feeling continually anxious and worried. I remember being terrified of getting lost, whether separated from my parents out in the world or, if we were driving somewhere, that we wouldn’t know how to get back home.

Looking into our kids’ minds, kids cannot come out and say what the problem is sometimes, they can’t define it; their behavior gives us clues to what’s going on in their minds. It’s up to us to interpret their behavior, and if we see something unusual to mark it as a red flag. Here are three other examples I discuss in today’s episode:

  • In my first year as a preschool teacher a student of ours, a four-year-old named “Sherry,” acted on the kids at school some of the behaviors she had learned at home; once she had hurt a few kids at school we got the Department of Children and Families involved and eventually Sherry was removed from her home
  • Shane and Jocelyn Sams of the great Flipped Lifestyle podcast (click here to check out their website, flippedlifestyle.com) share in a December 2015 episode about the catalyst for leaving their full-time teaching jobs and creating a worklife balance so that “life always comes before work;” their little boy, away from them every day in child care while they both worked, developed fear of the dark and fear of enclosed spaces… they observed these changes in behavior and were trying to help little Isaac cope with them when they found out that a teacher at child care disciplined Isaac and the other children by shutting them up in a dark closet!
  • We started homeschooling Max because of changes in his behavior; in the early grades but especially first, Max was diagnosed with migraine headaches, lost 20% of his body weight in the first grade, and had other alarming symptoms

In each case above, it was the children’s behavior that led the way. Then the question became – as it did with me as a child – what do we do about this?

Even if we don’t know what the problem is, we can still help our kids (my mom and dad helped me SO much even without knowing that I had been molested.) The most important thing we can do is to take them seriously; we must validate their feelings.

This means saying something like “that sounds scary” instead of “stop talking like that… It can’t be as bad as all that… That’s silly.” Saying things like the latter might help us feel better. But what our kids really need is that we communicate our understanding and our empathy – they need to know that we get that they’re going through something tough and that we will help them.

This idea of taking our kids seriously comes up in the book I’m writing for you guys, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics. In it, there’s a whole chapter on the whys and hows of taking kids seriously. But the subject of today’s show – that is, how to tell when there’s something really wrong – doesn’t come up in the chapter yet as it’s written.

So I’d like to leave you with a question: would it be valuable to you if I brought this in? It’s pretty heavy stuff… But definitely worth thinking about, taking them seriously as a way of noticing red flags and not panicking.

Do you want me to add this aspect of taking kids seriously into that chapter? Please let me know! Find me at weturnedoutokay.com/contact… On instagram @weturnedoutokay… And on twitter @StoneAgeTechie.

You can also get in touch with me by going to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com, where right now you can sign up for me to email you both my fridge-worthy infographic about how to handle any tantrum and to get an alert on the day the book launches (April 3 is our planned launch date) because it will be free for three short days when it first launches in Amazon! You can also hit reply to any of my emails from positivedisciplineninjatactics.com and let me know your thoughts on adding in the subject of today’s show, how to know when there’s something wrong.

Thanks for sticking with me during this heavier-than-usual-subject-matter show! I hope it was helpful to you, and I really appreciate you listening.

Key Links:

This past Tuesday, dad and teacher Bret Turner and I had a fantastic conversation which ranged across many topics including science fiction and incorporating music into the classroom – and the fact that, as a young child myself, I was molested. Bret and I spoke about confronting fears as a parent, and I just know you’re going to love that conversation; listen here or by going to weturnedoutokay.com/057 (but that episode is by no means a prerequisite to today’s.)

Click here to listen to my conversation with Bret Turner, or go to weturnedoutokay.com/057

This book, The Courage to Heal, is one that I would recommend to you if you were sexually abused as a child. It sure helped me get past my experience!

Listen to Shane and Jocelyn’s fantastic podcast, The Flipped Life Podcast, by clicking here or going to flippedlifestyle.com

Answer this question: should I include the subject of today’s show in my forthcoming book Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics? by getting in touch with me:


@weturnedoutokay on instagram

@StoneAgeTechie on twitter

Also, share your feelings on that question and get my printable, fridge-worthy infographic about how to handle any tantrum by going to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com

057: Facing Fears While Raising A Young Child – A Conversation with Dad and Teacher Bret Turner

IMG_2016Last fall, I posted a picture (that picture, right over there) on instagram, a quote from the movie After Earth: “Fear is not real. It is a product of the thoughts you create. Do not misunderstand me. Danger is very real. But fear is a choice.”

Today’s guest, Bret Turner, and I ended up having a fantastic, lengthy and deep conversation that started with this quote. I absolutely love instagram, and this kind of thing is why – without it, I would never have met this thoughtful first grade teacher and father to a 17-month-old girl.

I love these People-In-Your-Neighborhood conversations, with parents just like you, out in the real world, combining family and work in a balance that allows for contentment, positivity, and joy. Bret and I talk about all kinds of things, from why music is such a great transitional tool for young children to the positive lessons older kids and teens can take from Inara, the beloved prostitute on Joss Whedon’s short-lived gem, Firefly.

Click here go to weturnedoutokay.com and read more about my conversation with Bret!

Bret, his wife, and their daughter live in Berkeley, California, and Bret’s initial thoughts on my instagram quote from After Earth were that as a white, straight, middle-class American man, it seemed very privileged to him to go around talking about how “fear is a choice.” Sure, he could choose to fear or not – but does a Syrian refugee or a young black American man have that same choice?

A valid point. But when I came back in our instagram conversation and shared that, as a seven-year-old, I had been molested and really wish that I’d been introduced to the idea of fear-as-a-choice, because thinking of fear as something I can control would have helped as I grew up with the feelings of guilt and fear – the molester threatened my life if I ever told – and of course Bret completely understood where I was coming from.

So we had this really cool meeting of the minds, which seems to rarely happen in modern discourse, where we can each understand the other’s point and even agree with it, expanding both of our perspectives and helping us appreciate our different perspectives as well.

I hope that our conversation helps you face your fears, whether about the wider world or in your own home!

Key Links:

Watch this TED talk with conductor Ben Zander – seriously, right now. You’ll be glad you did!

Bret and I turn out to be fans of the same science fiction – we especially got into the SYFY channel redo of Battlestar Galactica, and Joss Whedon’s western set in space, Firefly.

I have not listened to this particular episode of This American Life, but Bret took a lot from it.

Download the free gift I made for you, the 9 1/2 Key Resources for Old-School Parents, here.

056: How to Handle Every Temper Tantrum

Today’s episode is a little different: I read a key chapter from my forthcoming book! The chapter, called Handling Tantrums With HEART, is going to help you keep your cool even while your toddler or preschooler is melting down. Here I share my method for dealing with tantrums, which I came up with to help you retain your sanity even when the tantrums are flying fast and furious in your home.

Today, I read it aloud because I want to know how you feel about it. What did I miss? What would help you more in dealing with your child’s temper tantrums?

Also, I tell you how you’ll be able to get the book – Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics – for free when it launches on April 3!

Click here to get the full show notes at weturnedoutokay.com/056.

In her article When It All Falls Apart: Toddlers, Tantrums and Turmoil, online at naturalchild.org, author Lauren Lindsey Porter shares: “The majority of tantrums last between 1.5 and five minutes, though they can be as short as 30 seconds or as painfully long as two hours.” I sure hope that your child’s tantrums are on the shorter end of that spectrum!

But whether they are or not, here is the condensed version of the HEART method of handling any tantrum:

Haven – create a safe place for your child to melt down, anywhere from your arms to her room

Empathy – try to communicate your understanding; everyone wants to be understood

Abide – just like Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski says, some things must just be endured

Reintegration – after it’s over, we need to help our kids return to the world

Trust – going through these steps, tantrum after tantrum, builds trust that our kids need to take them into their lives

“By using HEART, you are making this foundation of trust as firm and solid as your love is for your child. Managed properly, a tantrum is really a teaching tool, one that helps you know your child well and help get through the tough times. And that is the upside [to a temper tantrum].” – Karen Lock Kolp

Key Links:

I’m creating an infographic, something you can print out and put on your fridge so you have an easy way to remember how to handle a tantrum – best of all, you can point babysitters, grandparents, and older siblings to the infographic and say “this is how we handle a tantrum in our home.” That way, everybody’s on the same page!

Grab it by clicking this link, which takes you to positivedisciplineninjatactics.com. This will also get you on the prelaunch list, which means that you can pick up the book for free when it goes live on April 3, 2016!

To read Lauren Lindsey Porter’s full article, click here to go to naturalchild.org.

055: How Kids Look at Challenges: A Your Child Explained Episode

3D-bookshot-wo-borderIn this Your Child Explained episode, where we always try to get into the heads of our young kids, we look more closely at how kids face challenges. Today’s show digs more deeply into one aspect of episode 54, which dropped Tuesday and features mom and New York Times best-selling author Jessica Lahey. While episode 54 is not a prerequisite to today’s show, take a listen back if you get the chance because our conversation will really help you wrap your mind around the idea of what works – and what doesn’t – in helping your kids overcome setbacks and challenges.

For the full notes to today’s episode, click here click here to go to weturnedoutokay.com/055… If you’re listening on your iPhone and that link is not clickable, here’s what you do: tap the three little dots on the right, opposite the title of this episode, which pulls up a very useful menu. In that menu, click View Full Description, and that will make the links clickable. Enjoy!

Our young children face challenges every day. Learning how to walk is a challenge, as is learning to talk, creating an epic Lego scene, or cooking pancakes on the stove; all challenges, all opportunities for our kids to fail. At least, before they finally succeed! As Jessica and I talked about on Tuesday, humans must fail in order to learn and eventually succeed.

The first question we need to ask as we look at challenges from the perspective of our children is: is the challenge intrinsically or extrinsically motivated? When it’s a child-driven motivation, like learning to walk or talk, kids will take that challenge and run with it… Failures won’t feel like failures to them, they’ll feel like opportunities for learning.

When the challenge is extrinsically motivated – when, for example, we say to them “it’s time for you to learn to use the potty” and they are not ready – it’s much more difficult for them to find the motivation.

Our second question, once we’ve figured out if the current challenge is an intrinsic or extrinsic one, is: how do we see that challenge from their perspective? And if we can see that… How can we help?

We dig into Carol Dweck’s research here, on growth versus fixed mindset. We want to encourage the growth mindset rather than the fixed, and it’s in our everyday interactions with our children that we can make this happen.

A fixed mindset does not set our children up for success; it sets them up instead to try to be perfect. When you’re trying to be perfect, every challenge is an insurmountable obstacle because you can’t keep up perfection.

A growth mindset sets them up for success because, when we emphasize how impressed we are by the work they are doing (rather than by the outcome of that work), we communicate to them that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to fall down. Challenges become interesting and fun because, instead of trying to avoid mistakes, our kids are learning from them.

So, it’s much better for our kids when we say to them “wow, I can see you worked really hard on this drawing,” rather than “wow, what a perfect drawing!”

Key links:

My conversation with Jessica Lahey can be heard here.

Click here to check out Jessica’s book, The Gift of Failure.

My book, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics, launches April 3! Click here to get on the prelaunch list, so you’ll know immediately when it goes live in Amazon (where for limited time you’ll be able to get it for free!)

054: Helping Our Kids Learn from Their Mistakes: A Conversation with Mom and New York Times Best-selling Author Jessica Lahey


To listen, scroll down to the bottom of this post and press the triangular “play” button.

About this episode:

Several years ago, today’s guest wrote what was for me an earth-IMG_1927shattering piece in the Atlantic Monthly (read it here). Jessica Lahey’s article discusses an experience she had as a middle school teacher, where she realized a student had plagiarized, called the student’s mom to discuss the failing grade the student would be getting – and the mom said “you can’t fail her… I wrote that paper for her, she has too much on her plate and couldn’t do it herself.”

My guest’s article talks about how, when your mom writes your papers, you are robbed of the experience. It’s one way in which you are not learning how to fall down – by writing a bad paper – and get back up again.

Fast forward to summer 2015, when I heard Jess on the wonderful podcast The Good Life Project, discussing both the article and her new book, The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed. Last December, I attended Jessica’s live presentation about The Gift of Failure, and she graciously offered to come on the podcast; today’s episode is the conversation we had a week or so later, and it’s a great one!

To read more about our conversation, click here to this episode’s notes page at weturnedoutokay.com.

During our 3D-bookshot-wo-borderconversation, I share that, as a parent, I tried really hard to make sure everything was perfect for my kids when they were little.

I ask Jess: why do we parents do this? She laughs – the sympathetic laugh of a woman who has been in my shoes – and talks about how we want what’s best for them, and we also want that jolt of oxytocin that comes with being depended upon… And then shares about how she moved from encouraging this kind of dependence to seeing her relationship with her kids blossom when she started encouraging their autonomy rather than their dependence upon her.

Highlights from our conversation include:

1) the work of Carol Dweck, a researcher who focuses on the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset; believe me, we want to encourage a growth mindset, the one in which our kids look upon challenges as fun and setbacks as learning experiences instead of a reason to give up

2) the relationship between these three words: autonomy, competence, and connection; one of the major themes in The Gift of Failure, Jess illustrates that as parents, our job is to foster these three traits in our children, they are the key to a good life

3) how to give our kids the gift of failure, without feeling like failures ourselves; there’s a real mind shift that must take place to go from “oh – let me do that for you” to “hey, great job – you worked really hard and did that for yourself!”

Overall, I love our conversation because it’s clear that Jessica Lahey sees both sides of this coin, understands this from the perspective of a parent who doesn’t let her children fall down and figure out how to get back up. In her book, her live presentations, and in this interview she provides a roadmap to give our kids the gift of failure – and understand what a true gift it is.

September 2016:

Announcing We Turned Out Okay’s First Online Class!

Want to: Have more self-reliant kids? Cut down on the day-to-day struggles in your home? Discover the #1 mistake parents can make?
Sign up for the FREE online class I’m teaching!


Class date: Sunday, September 18, 2016
8:15 p.m. EST
Click the big question mark in the picture above to sign up. I’ll see you there!

053: Five Ways to Battle the Winter Blahs

IMG_2041Winter is, hands down, my favorite season – which makes sense, given that I’m Canadian by birth. And yet… when the kids were small it was such a killer! We would make plans and somebody would get sick; a simple excursion to the grocery store felt like preparing for a six week hike through Alaska; we’d all feel so cooped up all the time.

So today I want to help you handle wintertime better with your little kids that I did with mine!

This episode presents my five favorite ways to battle the winter blahs; click here to go to episode 53 at weturnedoutokay.com!

Here they are: 5 Ways to Battle the Winter Blahs

1) Play with your child; we talk about all different ways to just have fun with your littles, everything from playing dress-up, to play dough, to mixing up a favorite recipe of mine, cornstarch and water – mix about a cup of cornstarch with a few tablespoons to half a cup of water, and then just enjoy… my friend Heather Kempskie of episodes 20 and 27 co-wrote a book (with her twin sister Lisa Hanson) which will give you all kinds of ideas for kids and playing, called The Siblings Busy Book, if you’re looking for some great ideas

2) Make simple snacks and then eat them… together; ants on a log, homemade hot cocoa, favorite dip with carrots or celery – making and then sharing food together can be such a simple pleasure; for a fantastic homemade hot cocoa recipe I recommend the book Make The Bread, Buy The Butter by Jennifer Reese

3) Bring music into your day… whether it’s dancing up and down the hall together, singing, or playing musical instruments, music cheers everybody up; thanks to my friend De (whom you meet in episode 000), music became a huge part of first Max’s and then Jay’s lives from a very young age; a favorite song of ours to sing from even before Max could talk was The Ballad of Grace Darling by the Limeliters

4) Get outside; this may not be everyone’s first choice… But once you’re out there, all suited up and everything, it can be beautiful and just-what-you-needed; plus when you come back in from the cold it feels like you really went and did something; if you need something to do and you’re in a snowy area of the country, one thing that always amused us was to build a gigantic mountain of snow – gigantic to toddlers, anyway – which would give me something to do, and some exercise, and give the kids a focus for their play

5) Bath time!… A bath has a way of making everybody feel better; baths can enliven our spirits or have a really calming influence, and either way seemed to always help break up the day

Above all, I’d ask that you try to remember this: the days are long, but the years are short. Even in the toughest times in the bleakest midwinter, remembering that their childhood won’t last forever can help us focus on being in the present now.

Happy winter!

Key links:

Enjoy The Siblings’ Busy Book by friend-of-the-podcast Heather Kempskie, co-written with her twin sister Lisa Hanson

For an interesting take on food, you want to read Make The Bread, Buy The Butter

To find out how I became a podcaster, listen to episode 000, made with my four dearest friends on a night with laughter, tears, and perhaps a shade too much wine

It is in Sherry Turkle’s book, Reclaiming Conversation, that she recounts her fascinating story about the dad who has such different memories of bath time with his older daughter when she was a baby, and bath time now with his younger daughter – at least, it was in reference to this book that I heard Sherry tell that story

My forthcoming book, Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child, launches on April 3! Click here to sign up for your free anti-tantrum chapter 🙂