I am sure you are as excited as I am to have Dr Carla Naumburg, author of How To Stop Losing Your Shit With Your Kids on The Spike today. I hope this doesn’t sound like boasting but I have not shouted at my children once since reading this book three weeks ago.
Perhaps to some of you that doesn’t sound like much of an achievement but seriously, it is. My children are behaving better, is the crazy thing. It’s like me shouting sent us on a downward spirally, vicious-cycle-y thing of bad behaviour in the house generally and me not shouting has sent us on an upward spiral, collectively. Anyway I’m sure I will falter eventually but I am living proof that if you read and absorb and engage with this book, you can make a change.
1 Hi Carla. Tell us a bit more about yourself. Where are you from? Kids? What do you do when you’re not writing books?
Hi! I’m a mother, clinical social worker, reformed academic, writer, and aspiring crazy cat lady. I live outside of Boston, Massachusetts, with my husband of 16 years, our two daughters (ages 9 & 10), and our two insane cats. When I’m not writing books, I enjoy hiking, playing cards with my family, reading murder mysteries, and watching hilarious TV shows.
2 My kids drive me crazy and I lose my shit with them a lot. But that’s normal, isn’t it?
Yup. 100% normal. We’re parenting in an age of anxiety, exhaustion, social media, and chronic busyness, and all of that makes us far more prone to losing it with our kids. And there’s nothing wrong with exploding at our kids sometimes; even healthy, loving, flexible relationships get super bumpy from time to time. It becomes problematic, however, when losing it with our children becomes frequent, habitual, or a dominant dynamic in the family system.
3 Okay so maybe shouting at them isn’t ideal – but don’t they have to know sometimes that they have pushed me too far?
YES! Absolutely! But the question is, how do we let them know that they’ve pushed too far? Are we doing it by screaming, shouting, hitting, or throwing things? Or are we using our words, and sharing our experience in a way that our children might be able to hear and understand? The goal is to stay as calm as possible as often as we can, while still communicating limits and expectations.
4 You say in the book that even you sometimes still lose your shit with them. If you can’t not, how can we be perfect?
Whoever asked you to be perfect? As I say so eloquently (HA!) in the book, “perfection can suck it.” Not only is perfection not an option for any of us, it’s not what our kids need. They need us to model, whenever we can, that it’s ok to make mistakes, and that we can apologize and reconnect. In addition, striving for perfection is a major trigger, which makes it more likely that we’ll explode, which is the opposite of what we’re aiming for.
5 Do you think with practice I can stop losing my shit with my kids? Sometimes I feel like swallowing it down is bad for me.
I think with practice, any of us can lose our shit with our kids less often and less intensely, and we can learn how to recover and reconnect more effectively when we do lose it. However, we will still have feelings – big, unpleasant feelings – and that’s ok. No feeling is ever wrong, as yucky as they may feel. The question is what we do with those feelings. When I’m filled with a ton of anxious, tense, stressed, or angry energy, I try to move my body (go for a walk, dance), sing out loud (gets the yelling energy out without actually yelling), talk to a friend, or write in my journal. It’s not about swallowing it down, it’s about finding a way to get it out that doesn’t involve losing it, and having a whole lot of compassion for ourselves if and when we explode anyway.
6 What are the things that your kids do that make it tempting to lose your shit with them?
There are lots of things my girls do that irritate me, but whether or not I lose my shit has more to do with how I’m doing than whether they’re putting on their damn shoes (which they almost never are) or bickering with each other (STOP IT ALREADY). Am I exhausted? Stressed? Anxious? Hungry? When I’ve done all (or at least most) of the things I need to do so I don’t lose it, I can tolerate a fair amount of button pushing. But when I’m a mess, for whatever reason, the girls have to barely look at me and I’ll lose it.
7 Tell us one thing that you have bought recently (air tickets, shoes, a plant?) that you’re excited about.
So, I haven’t bought this yet, but I will as soon as it’s available. And it’s super dorky, but here goes. Garmin makes fitness trackers, and they’re going to issue a Captain Marvel / Avengers watch soon and I CAN’T WAIT. I find that tracking my exercise and sleep motivates me to stay on top of it, and my daughters and I love the superheroes, especially strong women who kick ass. I’m pretty psyched about this watch!
8 What are you having for dinner tonight?
How the hell should I know? Seriously. I can’t even with this whole “dinner” business. If I were to win the lottery tomorrow, I would hire a personal chef and I would never make dinner again. Having said that, if I were a betting woman, I would guess it’s some combination of wheat and cheese (mac n cheese, pizza, quesadillas) because that’s how we roll in my kitchen these days.