Ivona Bhada – Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Parenting Confidently
Below is the transcription of this interview with therapist, Ivona Bhada. For more information about Ivona Bhada please click here. To contact her directly please call (561) 287-0942.
Transcript from Interview
Christopher B.: Hi everyone. My name’s Christopher Bruce. I’m a marital and family law attorney in West Palm Beach. Today, I have the pleasure of being joined by Ivona Bhadha. She is a therapist in the West Palm Beach area. A lot of her work beyond working with couples and individuals is working with parents on parenting their kids and some strategies for redirecting children’s behavior. She does a fair amount of that in her private practice, but she also does a few seminars on a fairly regular basis in the South Florida area. I just wanted to thank you for coming on and maybe just introduce yourself briefly, tell people what you do, and then we’ll get into the recorded presentation that we have with the office here.
Ivona Bhadha: Thank you, Chris. It is a pleasure to be here and to talk to a group of people who really think about the future of our children, and they also really think about how to help our children to grow to be responsible, to have high self esteem and really being compassionate team members in this society and in their own families. And I came to this passion though actually working in the field of psychotherapy and counseling for the past 18 years. Understanding self and others helped me to also understand that as parents, we really need this kind of guidance and learning certain tools, how to raise children, responsible children with high self esteem. That’s what I do in addition to sitting in the office and helping people to have breakthroughs, either as a couple in their relationship or individually. I like to do workshops, like weekend workshops, and helping parents to become more confident and calm so they can really have a joy raising their families because as we all know parenting is the job that will eventually end, even if you will be moms and dads forever. In order to have influence on our children, it’s very time limiting. So, I kind of becoming an expert in teaching it because I love to learn what I teach, or I teach what I love to learn.
Christopher B.: There we go. Without first ado, we’ll have the recording which we did just a few minutes before this with my office, and hope everybody finds it useful.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, thank you. Thank you.
Christopher B.: The question that we probably all want to know that I’m sure is real simple to answer is why do children misbehave? Why does that happen in most circumstances?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, yeah. It’s a question that every parent faces or even if you’re an uncle, aunt, stepparent, teachers. it’s a very frustrating moment. By default, parents usually think that something wrong is with their child. Something wrong with their … Or at the same time, different feeling may come, “I’m failing here. I’m not doing the right job here.” But all misbehaviors of children are to communicate to us, especially some unmet needs. Feelings that are confusing, also something what they want and they don’t have a language for. So, good news is that it’s not it. You are not a failing parent or you are … There’s not something horribly wrong with them. They are just children who are trying to communicate to us needs that they have.
We have to become these translators, and we need to equip ourselves. What it means is that to have courage, willingness to say, “I don’t know what to do, and I’m willing to learn.” And teacher will show up. I guarantee you. And from that [inaudible 00:04:29] point, so much can be done, so your homes can be more peaceful places. You feel competent. You know what? It’s another gift comes with learning parenting is because you will hear it from right and left. You will have to look closely at your self care.
Christopher B.: So, that’s … And I think you, right before we started recording this, we were talking about with the children, gems, or genuine encounter moments. We met a guinea pig picked out in a room for talking about it but what are those basically?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, before I answer, I just want to give you a little number so you know. And it may sound a little extreme. But there’s this institute on families, and they did some statistics and maybe it’s very average but they came out with the number that the average American kid, or child in America spends only 12 and half minutes communicating with their parents. Perhaps it’s not the weekend. Maybe it’s just weekday, and of course, you may have a different experience. But I was thinking about that number and they say that eight minutes from 12 and half minutes, time they have with parents, is spent on parents telling them what to do, criticizing them, even demanding something from them, and telling them what to do, chores. So, very [inaudible 00:06:12] like four and half minutes for teaching them values, helping them to feel good about themself, helping them, teaching them to feel valuable, powerful, helping them with their emotions, teaching them responsibility. I can name it.
So, you can see that somewhere there, there is a need for every day taking time to connect with your children because if they are misbehaving, it’s also a sign that the emotional bank of your relationship is overdrafted. There wasn’t enough given, put into their little hearts. So, genuine encounter moments is 100% undivided attention to your child. When they’re smile, under teenage years, they actually are, they’re relentless. They still are coming to us. And we, if we don’t know about these responsiveness to them, we can miss out on a lot of connection, connecting moments. When they become teenagers, we certainly need to put everything down because they will be coming to us less and less.
So, I have a lovely volunteer here, and I’ll just demonstrate. And so, it is Serena, right?
Serena: That’s right.
Ivona Bhadha: Do you want to be my seven year old daughter?
Serena: Of course. I can do that.
Ivona Bhadha: So, I’ll do the kitchen. And the garden, patio is right there, the door is open. And playing, playfully, and you actually have a little butterfly that got on your hand and you are coming to me to show me this beautiful creature. I am first doing it ineffective way. I’m not doing gem first, right? I’m doing it distracted way, or ineffective way.
Serena: Mommy, do you want to see my butterfly? I got a butterfly.
Ivona Bhadha: I think they are flying from north or south, and yeah, those are those special butterflies. They are here because they kind of …
Serena: Oh, okay. Thanks.
Ivona Bhadha: You know how to spell it? Butterfly?
Serena: Uh-huh (affirmative).
Ivona Bhadha: Do you know how to spell butterfly?
Serena: I would think, yes.
Ivona Bhadha: B … So now we pause. How did you feel?
Serena: I’m trying to show you this wonderful butterfly and you just do not … you’re just busy doing something else. And he’s so beautiful. [crosstalk 00:09:19].
Ivona Bhadha: So, there was really a good for connection and I missed it.
Ivona Bhadha: Feels like I missed it.
Serena: Feel like a real child might have been like, “My butterfly!”
Ivona Bhadha: But even you had nicely into a role and you were disappointed. You were not getting it, right?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, great. So, now we can do what we call genuine encounter moment, and it can be any situation that the child comes to you with. Even after these exercises, you can see, you may even start paying more attention to [inaudible 00:09:54] for connection.
Serena: Oh, my butterfly again.
Ivona Bhadha: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Serena: Hey Mom. Mom, look at this butterfly. Isn’t he pretty?
Ivona Bhadha: Wow, wow.
Serena: I caught him.
Ivona Bhadha: It’s beautiful.
Serena: What should I do with him now?
Ivona Bhadha: What do you want to do with him?
Serena: Well, I don’t know. Let’s keep him.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, you can do whatever you want with him.
Serena: Okay, I’m going to keep him. Thank you, Mom.
Ivona Bhadha: You look like you want to give me a hug, don’t you?
Serena: I do. Thank you for looking at my butterfly. I’m going to go take him back
Ivona Bhadha: How did you feel?
Serena: That was more like this is the … My mom thought this butterfly was awesome, even though I’m not sure how I’m holding a butterfly [crosstalk 00:10:59]. But no, that felt more like a child would be like, “This is the coolest thing I’ve ever showed my mom.” And that’s, yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: Yes, yes. Yeah. And I had you to lead-
Ivona Bhadha: I had you to lead it, to lead that so because there might be a tendency that I’ll just, I’ll takeover. To be still present but I’ll tell you what to do with it and I got on your level. I let all distraction go because that experience is just like you really want to make it about them.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah. So, it’s like when you are in the course, you actually practice that so you can have just sort of feeling about it and then you will practice it at home. You can practice it with your partners as well. It really, it works. It is the number one, I would say, number one easy deposit that you can put into the relationship with your child. So, this gem for example is just something that can these behaviors that’s into the strength of relationships. So, if you are going through something with your child and you are asking them to do something, the like hood that they will do it is high. So, let’s say, I’ll give you example. Just close your eyes. Be nine years old, or be from seven to nine year old, and from the moment you wake up, I want you to listen to this.
Wake up. Put the clothe on. Eat your breakfast. Let’s go! We’ll be late! We have to go! Are your shoes on? Then come to school. Put your books on the table. Have lunch. Let’s go to the breakfast. Do this, do that. They come home. Let’s do homework. Shower. Bath even. Pajamas, where’s your pajamas. Okay, take a deep breath. Maybe it doesn’t really go like that but in some ways, and I reflect on that as well, I have days when I’m just barking orders because I forgot or I am in forgetfulness that every day is precious to teach them something. This is not exactly how I will earn cooperation. So, that’s the reason why we have to kind of learn how to speak to our children.
One of the questions was feelings, when they have strong emotions for example, or when they show anger. So, one of the things that you will look at is how to validate, first listen very attentively, validate their feelings, stay with them. Kind of hold space. And from that place, just having connecting conversation. So, Amber, I think about you as your next volunteer. Would you be my volunteer? Yes?
Amber: There’s no way I would do as good as a job as Serena did.
Christopher B.: That was an interesting looking butterfly by the way.
Ivona Bhadha: So, if you were child, this is … We can use that example. Be my 11 years old and tell me that you don’t think you can do this project, that you won’t be as good as Ashley.
Amber: I can’t do this project. There’s no way that I will do as good of a job as the other kid in my class will do.
Ivona Bhadha: [inaudible 00:15:41]. Aww. What do you say to yourself? Can you say it to yourself, say something different? Can you say something … What do you think that you can say to yourself that you won’t feel more encouraged about this project?
Amber: Maybe if you could help me?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, you sound like you want help, right?
Ivona Bhadha: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. What do you want me to do? Teach me.
Amber: Can you help me understand the instructions?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, of course I can. Yeah. What are some other things, when I help you to do the instructions, what are some of the strength you have that you can do this project?
Amber: I can be creative.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah. You are very creative.
Ivona Bhadha: So, I will help you with instructions. And do you want me to be here when you will take over? Do you want me to be here? Just to sit here when you get your creativity going?
Amber: Yes, I would like that.
Ivona Bhadha: Oh, awesome. So, let me just check this please. Instructions, you know? So, I gave everybody how I would do it but what did you notice as we went through this?
Amber: You were letting the child lead.
Ivona Bhadha: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. I didn’t takeover, right? Yeah. So, one of the thing is that we actually changed here but I also wanted to help you to change your self talk without me telling you what to think. I asked you what would be something else to think. So if we continue this conversation, then you could say to yourself, “I am very creative.” As we go through this project. There are times that our children really need us to teach them something, like they cannot read the instructions well or they never done the project. So, it doesn’t mean that we have to do it for them or actually let them to be just completely on their own. We can find out if they need us to be with them.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, thank you. When we start also paying attention to our children’s, what they are saying about themselves, because by the age of around seven years old, eight years old, they will … I don’t know if I got the numbers right. They will stop telling us I think when they go to teenage years. But up until I would say 12 years old, they will still tell us what Amber said. I don’t think I’m as good as Ashley or four year old tell me, my son told me once, “I’m ugly.” He doesn’t even know what it means but again to pay attention to it and instead of just saying, “No, you are not ugly.” Or, “You are great. You are good.” Just take a moment. It’s such an opportunity to again for them, if you do it consistently, they will start thinking about what they are thinking. It’s just kind of almost you teach them redirect their own thinking.
Yeah, what else is coming up for you?
Christopher B.: I think one of the things that you had, and we may have talked about it in some of the materials that you had, there was a concept of loving your child in peace in contrast to loving your child in torment. That may have been a little bit about this gem moment stuff that we spoke about. If you want to elaborate on that just a little bit.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, I think that even the best intentioned parents, if they lose their peace, they may start yelling at their children. Or when they are stressed out, they may be very short and certainly not having enough energy to create safe peaceful secure environment for the children to, in any given day, kind of like a thrive. So, kids that, when they are yelled at, they get scared. When they are threatened, they get scared. When they are, of course, the use of punishment has long-term negative consequences that they may learn to lie or they may become overly compliant, like people pleasers. But the punishment is, no matter how people justify and psychologically and for their personality, has a lot of consequences.
As a couples therapist, I can tell you that one of the consequences for kids going through being parented in a way that was a little [inaudible 00:21:35], and even if there wasn’t really abuse but there wasn’t expression of love and there was just like punishment, kids were afraid of their parents. Even the parents weren’t bad people but they were scared of the consequences because the consequence was actually punishment. So, they may, not that everybody, but a lot of times they develop this insecure relationship style and makes much more difficult for them to feel peaceful in relationship. It’s very interesting. And again, this is not a blame game. It’s just to understanding self. If your brain detected more fear than love, then you were raised in torment.
Christopher B.: So how, I guess kind of following up on that, and this is part of my confession is I read through about chapter four of the book and I’ve put down and I haven’t got back to it, but there was part of the book I thought very useful just in my own home about dealing with children as their misbehaving in a way that you address it in the moment then also over time try to teach the child to be responsible of hopefully limiting incidents of it happening. But maybe you could talk just a little bit just about I guess practically for children who are misbehaving, what is the best way to approach dealing with it in a manner that does not instill a fear of punishment? But maybe more of a respect and responsibility?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, nice question. I like it. Yes. We already kind of went through the kind of step one, when we … I just kind of closed the [inaudible 00:23:32].
Christopher B.: We were, I guess I could say the question again. One of the questions I had coming off of what you were talking about with consequences of children who grow up living in fear of punishment. What is the best way for us as parents when children are misbehaving to I guess, to borrow the title of the book, to redirect their behavior in a manner that teaches them how to do the right thing and I guess respect us as parents and not really live in fear of punishment?
Ivona Bhadha: Yes, yes. So, first of all, we have to identify, or in other words, diagnose what is the misbehavior. That was really one of the gems or value I got from this course, taking it and teaching it. It’s not just one misbehavior. First step, we already took when we consider change our mindset and see that misbehavior is not bad child. It’s just the behavior that is telling us something. Step two, we’ll have to understand the goal of their misbehavior. So, we kind of touched on it, but I’ll give you four scenarios. And that’s what I put it together also when I work with parents with adult misbehaving children. They are the same. They just look differently, right? But they are the same with the goal.
So, the goal is attention. The child, for you to know there is attention, you usually would feel annoyed. Our own feelings will tell you what is their goal actually. We feel annoyed. We want to sort of correct them or tell them what to do or not to do because they can become kind of relentless. They are attention seeking. Their goal is formulated like this is, “If I do this, I will get this attention from my parents.” Our job is to, when we identify their behaviors as attention-seeking is to do the right redirection. And then, when this scenario is over, then we’ll find again the moment when everything is kind of peaceful and teach them how to ask for attention appropriately.
So, Ashley, do you want to meet your old college friend that you didn’t see for 10 years?
Ivona Bhadha: Okay, yeah. And so, who wants to be our little daughter?
Christopher B.: Oh this is going to be sweet.
Ivona Bhadha: Little daughter.
Serena: I’ll be her daughter. And how old is she?
Ivona Bhadha: Three.
Serena: I’ll be a three year old.
Ivona Bhadha: Okay, great. So, See how it’s going to … And you can be her college friends, Chris. You can be her college-
Christopher B.: Okay, yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, you can come here with me. They’re going to go there in the living room. You haven’t seen each other-
Ashley: How are you?
Ivona Bhadha: For seven years. And your goal is attention.
Ivona Bhadha: You need to get your mom’s attention. And for every second of your attention, they will be counting probably $1 for every attention. All right.
Ashley: How have you been?
Christopher B.: I have been great. How are you doing?
Christopher B.: What’s it like being a mother?
Serena: I want you. I want to play with you.
Ashley: Oh, we’ll play in a little while sweetheart.
Serena: I want to play right now.
Ashley: Right now? Well, I want to see my college friend.
Serena: Right now!
Ashley: You’ve got toys.
Serena: I want to play with you and my toys.
Christopher B.: Oh, my daughter’s the same way.
Ashley: Why don’t you sit right here and I’ll talk? So [crosstalk 00:27:39]-
Serena: I want to play in my room.
Ashley: Then go to your room.
Serena: I want to play with you in my room.
Ashley: You’ve got plenty of toys in your room.
Serena: I want you to play with me and my toys in my room.
Ashley: After I see my friend.
Serena: No! I want to play with you now.
Ivona Bhadha: You earned 10 bucks. For seconds, [inaudible 00:28:03] 45 singles. So you learned that you can interrupt your mom and you get what you want. Right?
Serena: Yeah. And disrupt Mom and her friends.
Ivona Bhadha: So, the attention is like other misbehavior, you redirect actually, you tell me how you redirected. Can I be you, Ashley?
Ashley: Of course.
Ivona Bhadha: Hey Chris, I’m glad that you came.
Serena: Mom, I want to play with you, Mom!
Christopher B.: Oh, it’s great to see you and your daughter.
Serena: Mama, I want to play with you.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah.
Serena: Mama, I want you!
Ivona Bhadha: I’m so happy that you came-
Serena: Listen to me!
Ivona Bhadha: That you made it-
Serena: Mama, don’t be busy!
Ivona Bhadha: To us.
Christopher B.: It’s nice to be here. I see your daughter is more well-behaved than mine-
Serena: Mama! I want to play with you. Don’t talk to your friend. Talk to me. Mama!
Christopher B.: Oh boy.
Ivona Bhadha: So, what did you notice? How did I redirect her?
Christopher B.: Somebody try to get her some attention, actually seeking it I guess.
Ivona Bhadha: Did you notice anything?
Amber: You were validating her by the physical touch but not giving her, like not talking to her. Not disrupting your conversation.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, exactly. So, two things that, that’s why the other behaviors wouldn’t fly like that, misbehavior. So this one is that you don’t give eye contact and you don’t talk. And yet, see there’s just this energy and she just really naturally kind of left. And then I can teach her, I think that was a teaching moment later when I tucked her into bed like next time you can do it differently. So, I didn’t know these things but it really does work.
So, the other one is, just for the lack of time, I just like to cover all of them because it will give you a nice overview that not all misbehaviors are the same. The only one that I’m very familiar with is power struggle. And as the kids go into the age of five, six, and they are outgoing or whatever the personality, extrovert, they may really start testing your limits like with the toys, with the time on the media to suspend. A lot of different limits. When to eat, when to go to bed. So it’s another kind of area.
So, with power struggles, what do you think part of what I learn is the best is to prevent them. So, before they actually happen, and then it comes back to, “What can you do on daily basis?” You want them to follow through the limits, but you want to also have a certain agreements. So, one of the agreement with the toys that you, and there may be different creative ways, but one of the ways I say, I approach my son and I say, “We are going to Barnes & Noble. We are going to check very nice books. And we’ll spend there some times with friends. But can we agree that we are not going to buy anything?” So, they’re not in stress. “I want, I want, I want.” They are peaceful. And make sure you get their agreement. Making agreements is amazing things. And maybe you’re already doing it. I had not done it before I took the parenting class. So, it’s just such a tool. And once they agree and they come to the store, and they say, “Mommy, Mommy, I want you. I want that.” You can remind them, “Agreement. Can you help me? Can you remind me what we agreed on?” So, if the emotional bag is full, there is likely that they are going to just say, “Oh, okay, we did agree.” If they are going into power struggle, it means that I will need to intervene, redirect it.
So, what not to do is to start reasoning with them, negotiate with them, getting frustrated. If you are getting frustrated, you pretty much bet that you are in power struggle. So then you can think about giving choices. Just, “Do you want to stay without buying a present? Or do you want to actually go home earlier?” So, they’ll get a little confused but your job is not to kind of give in. So, that would be redirecting power struggle. The best thing is to prevent them by having agreements. And then really experimenting as you are in them. Sometimes you have to go to the bathroom and take a deep breath to consciously step out of the power struggle. And then check your tone of voice. That should be sort of like soft and kind, but your tone of voice would be also firm by giving them choice.
Two other misbehaviors are may sound little extreme but they happen often. One would be what we call revenge. So, in some ways as the child is getting back at you. It doesn’t have to be just you. It could be just that unavailable parent. When they go through, when kids experience divorce, they may be misbehavior because they are hurt and they are in pain, and they sometimes misbehave because they just normally try to get back at you, but they want you to hurt the way that they hurt. That’s kind of their goal. So, with that one, in the course, we would need to teach that. It takes a little bit more time. When you will have to sort of [inaudible 00:35:02] your own emotions, not getting hurt yourself, rather to go as far as, give you an example that it would be, “I can see that you are angry. I bet you are angry. I would be too if whatever they justify as their anger.”
And then, you just get on their level and you connect with them and you reflect and validate them until they tell you more. So, you’re just with them and that’s … The next thing you just try to ask them, “What do you think that could comfort you?” You then get into what hurts them. But if they are still pretty angry, it’s going to be up to you. You can hold the space for them. If they are just angry but they are not acting out, then they, you can probably comfort them by just staying with them. But do you have any question about it because that may be tricky? Because they may … You may ask, “What do you do if they are hurting you or someone?” Then you just … Then we’ll go to the next topic, which would be discipline versus punishment. But it’s when really like they are doing something really bad and you cannot redirect them, then you will just have to intervene with discipline. But that’s a different topic.
Christopher B.: Yeah, I didn’t mean to interrupt you there.
Ivona Bhadha: I just want to, and then I summarize, so you have this tool so that you can kind of diagnose the misbehaving child behavior rather think that it’s all the same. The fourth one is what is called inadequacy. If you don’t want to redirect inadequacy, then you teach the child to be dependent on you. One day, they will need to depend on someone else. And the example would be just someone like they tell you they don’t know how to put their shoes on and kids can test you like that, even they know how to put shoes or socks on. So, in that, when you start feeling that sense of responsibility that you have to do for them, we feel sorry for them, that can be also signal that they are coming kind of from that place of inadequacy or I can’t do this, you will do it for me.
So, there is opportunity for helping them to be more responsible and you don’t tie shoes for them. But you just, at the same time, you can approach them differently when they are saying, “I can’t do that.” So, you can come to the child and give them different kind of attention basically, not doing it for them, and encourage them to do it and walk away if they are waiting for you to do it for them.
Serena: What if it’s not like a physical inadequacy but like an emotional one? Like your trying to get the child to calm down and the child tries to communicate to you, “I can’t calm down.” Because I’ve had that happen before with my nephew, and I kept telling him, “You’re angry. Calm down.” “I can’t. I’m trying but I can’t.”
Ivona Bhadha: So one of the things because all kids will get angry and dysregulated and feeling like they can’t calm down, instead of timing out period, you can help them to create self calming place. Of course, not in the mid of some temper tantrum. But when things are calm and you create, it doesn’t have to be in their room because we are sending to their room. It may also send a signal, it’s like timeout. Go away. I can’t deal with you. It doesn’t have to be, you can help them but take their lead. “Where would you like it to be?” So, it can be a place where you can go and I can go with you and when we calm ourselves there.” When we help him to bring some toys or blocks, you find out, “What do you think is going to comfort you? Is there any toy that can give you that? Is there anything that you would want to hold?”
Self calming place, for those who can read, can be also, “What is the …” Little bit on the piece of paper, “What is the problem? How am I part of the problem? How can I make up for this?” So, that’s one of the sequence, that it can be a place where they can think about what’s really happening here. But parents can go with the child to sit there, so it’s not kind of a timeout. We have a little self place for my son to go but we have a used it really lately because somehow those kind of misbehavior, anger, are not so frequent. But when you teach your child self calming, you show him, even when they are not upset. You do evening yoga or you do some kind of meditation with them. And if they are open to it, it’s so handy when they are really upset that they can do it.
If they are not open to it, again, it will take little bit more time to fill up that emotional bank of that relationship that they will be cooperative.
Christopher B.: One of the things I was curious about, and I think you and I spoke about a little bit, me and my wife deal with is kind of walking the lines of parent of loving your children, having fun with your children, the reason a lot of us really want to have them. And disciplining them or appropriately redirecting them in a manner that does not have them growing up with the fear of punishment you’re talking about. And how as parents, we try to … Like what is the best way to try to walk that line without feeling guilty?
Ivona Bhadha: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yes, yes. So, one of the, when I explained the self calming place, that is created during the calm time, during calm weather. But when the child knows that it is a place you go to calm down, that can be already one of the way how they are disciplined but the results are different. They actually … The parent is calm because the part of it that the parent is calm as well. If you say, “Go to your self calming place and meditate.” That really defeats its purpose. It is where you actually take a pause. You breathe from one to 10 or 10 to zero, and you go, you take them. You take them slowly if they’re not going on their own. Without the words, you take them. You even sit down with them and you do just kind of like breathing with them and you leave.
The second part would be to understanding natural consequences. So, for example if the … I don’t know which misbehavior you are referring to, but is it something that they’re … can you give me an example?
Christopher B.: I guess one of the things … Pick the right one. If one of our children, it’s actually the youngest one, she will say to her brother after he does something unintentionally, “Not nice …” The boy’s name is Russell, “Not nice, Russell.” And then he in turn gets very upset because he hinges a lot on words, I guess, very sensitive little boy so then he’ll start shouting back at her. “Not nice, Ruby.” And then basically after a minute of two little kids that most of the time play with each other very nicely are doing this, they’re all screaming and crying and then they become very I guess nonresponsive to their parents’ instructions. And we’d really like to try to find a way to nicely keep them from doing that, in a way to where we’re not really being … We have a three year old who just turned three. You take three year old daughter into the room and yell at her for saying something mean to her brother? But at the same time, we can’t have that continue and have that be their relationship with each other growing up. So, I guess that might be one example. And I realize that involves two children, and it’s not just the children and parent, but it’s we’re not getting our daughter to stop doing it. It’s starting to become upsetting a little bit.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah. This a very tricky situation. It’s like you don’t know exactly what to say, how to say, but I think the teaching moment there is that what we can teach them conflict resolution with the focus on win-win situation and the other thing is to say, beyond just, “I’m sorry.” Beyond just apology. So there are two things that we are looking at, especially where siblings rivalry and fighting but it can be also fights with the play date friend. So, think about these things that really it’s limitless to your creativity how you can do it. But as long you know direction and because, we all were there, “Well, what am I supposed to do?” Just for you just quick reference, just be siblings and fight for this toy. First I will be-
Serena: No, I don’t mind.
Ivona Bhadha: Okay. So, first-
Serena: Do you want to see my butterfly?
Christopher B.: Mine.
Serena: No, it’s mine.
Christopher B.: Give me back my toy.
Serena: I had it first-
Ivona Bhadha: All right guys, I’m tired of you fighting always. I’m done. [crosstalk 00:46:47]. It was just really quick and effective way and I don’t know if I have done it but I probably … It’s so easy. Again, when my tank will be empty, this is what I would do because we really are not even conscious or mindful. But, for most part, parents like yourself and me, I want to be the conscious parent. So, do it again, bickering-
Serena: Look at what I found. Butterfly.
Christopher B.: Mine.
Serena: No, it’s actually mine.
Christopher B.: Mom, he took my doll or something.
Serena: Oh my gosh, it’s a butterfly.
Christopher B.: Give it to me!
Serena: Are we in trouble?
Ivona Bhadha: So, how do you want to do this so you both have [inaudible 00:47:51] of it? You?
Serena: You can have the butterfly.
Ivona Bhadha: Okay, you can give it to him. So, that was easy guys. You were easy volunteers.
Christopher B.: Yeah, I think my son or daughter would, “I want it!”
Ivona Bhadha: So, if they continue, again, it will not change right away but let’s say, “Did you calm down?” So you go on their level, you just take the toy of course because that’s the object of all the conflict, and you just, you’re just loving, and just be, “How, I wonder if you know how to make up with your brothers and sisters so you are both happy? I wonder if you have any ideas?” When you put it, kids especially the older one will, “Dad, I have to come up with ideas.”
Christopher B.: Really?
Ivona Bhadha: And experiment with them. But it’s just for some time consistently, stop doing what you usually did and see what happens. How can you both be happy? I wonder.
Serena: We can catch another butterfly.
Ivona Bhadha: She’s a good team member. So, it’s … And just explore the idea behind it.
Christopher B.: Yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: The next thing is about saying sorry, what we usually do, we would tell Russell to Rosie, yeah?
Christopher B.: Ruby, yes. Good memory.
Ivona Bhadha: Russell, say sorry to your sister.
Christopher B.: Yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: And say sarcastically. They can be sarcastic at four. So many-
Christopher B.: Oh, they are, yeah. These two right here.
Ivona Bhadha: So, this one is really tough. I have five year old that is not still really getting into it. Maybe I do it too fast with him. But it is just a formula. Three steps. So not just tell them to sorry but you kind of ask them, “What do you think how it made your sister feel?”
Christopher B.: Yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: What do you think? And they usually give you the answer. Even it takes some time to feel it. What do you think, like even this scenario? What do you think how it made Rosie feel?
Christopher B.: Yeah, probably made her feel angry or hurt, something like that I guess.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, yeah, you are right. Do you feel like there’s anything you can make up for her?
Christopher B.: Give her the toy back or something like that I guess.
Ivona Bhadha: And wait for them. Don’t give them the answers. There may not be answer in the beginning but what do you think would happen if you do it consistently? It’s just all of a sudden because they are kids, they are just like sponges, all of the sudden if they had a conflict at school, they may get this thing because we want them to be empathetic when they leave the house at the age of 18. So, you ask this question, “What do you think how it made her feel?” Can start planting that seed. So we can teach them to do make ups so we don’t punish them for making mistake like a teenager. Make an agreement to take the dishes out every night and they forget. So, we don’t criticize them for it but we allow them to do make up. So, we can start as early as five year old to give them a concept of making up and it means that there are no bad brother, bad person, but it means that they made a mistake and they can make up. That’s a tremendous gift for them.
So, I think we kind of covered that. So, it was creating self calming place, and parents should have that place as well, by the way. It may look different as an adult. Show them, model them. You have a little meditation zen place at home. It’s tremendous way how to teach. The other one would be the conflict resolution. Natural consequences are those that, for parents who tend to overprotect and over-parent. People have the tendency. That means if your kid forgot the lunch, regularly forgets lunch from school and you all just bring it or you start nagging them to take the lunch, the best experience is if it’s not life-threatening is to actually let go and not having their problem to be your problem. Think about it like when you start nagging, even with a child, their problem is your problem. When you do it with your partners, it’s the same math. If you stop nagging, if you are quiet, they will have to experience the natural consequences.
I cannot tell you how, majority 80% of those adult children with substance abuse problem, when they got together with parents as a family, 80% of them, it didn’t count substance abuse, I’m just telling you what was common denominator was that the parents, they’re overprotective, they could not let them … Even now, they were so afraid of them dying of drugs that they still could not let go and let them to experience natural consequences, which in early recovery means that they may not go to buy Starbucks because that’s not what they can afford and stuff like that. I hope it makes sense.
Christopher B.: Oh yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: But just this parenting tool and behavior has amazing impact on children moving forward.
Christopher B.: So, I guess maybe for the people who are watching this, and anybody else who’s in the room if they’re finding this might be helpful, how do you help people? How do you customize this stuff for parents? Maybe talk a little bit about the seminar that you have coming up and you do one on a semi-regular basis.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah, so, the workshop, parenting workshop is more as really powerful coaching experience. It’s not as much therapy. I wouldn’t … There’s no need to do therapy when this is something that we have to really learn, we have to experience. It’s more kind of like a workshop. And, I will do few seminars like I have done just with you. Just you motivate people perhaps, encourage them to take the course because when you take the course, then you have a reference to go to. You have your own experience and you and only you will be improving in that. Then after the course, you can sign up for, it’s every other week, you can be part of like a Mastermind group for parents, and it’s just something can help you personally but also really marinate in these different tools and scenarios. Within three month, you may feel very confident and calm. So, I do these workshops every three month, and the next coming January 18th, 19th, I will be doing it with the author of the workshop and the book, Kat Kvols. So, we are really a great team together. I learned tremendously just doing it with her.
And every three month I will offer it here in West Palm Beach, probably in my office. And yeah, yeah, I think that’s for this parenting course is what is coming up.
Christopher B.: I think we’ll of course have on the video, once it’s done, all your contact information but maybe just say it for the people who end up listening, what’s the best way to get in touch with you? Probably your website, and like how if they’re hearing this and think that you might be of help, what’s the process for them to get in touch?
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah. So, my phone number is 561-287-2942. And website is therapywestpalmbeach.com. So, I don’t have to spell it out-
Christopher B.: Pretty simple, yeah.
Ivona Bhadha: Yeah. And if anyone is watching this perhaps and I would say going through divorce could be a very tough life circumstance and adversity. And for parents, really, really, really hard time to go through. And if you are recovering from divorce or separation and you are at that finally at that moment that you want to really invest into your mental, emotional, or family life, that would be a good time to start your own recovery and then really learn, what I want to say, good habits of confident parents because divorce can undermine the parents’ sense of trusting themselves. So, come along and you will feel very confident after, especially after the workshop. It’s just so empowering.