3 Step Method to Calm Parenting with Alison Escalante
In this episode of the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim sat down with Alison Escalante, MD. Alison is a Pediatrician, speaker, writer, mother, and TEDx speaker. She has reached hundreds of thousands of parents with her TEDx talk “The Should Storm” (watch HERE). Alison is an expert in calm parenting and shares her mistakes, lessons, and ideas through her parenting journey at ShouldStorm.com
Kim spoke with Alison about her 3-step method to help parents calmly raise their kids and ENJOY doing it. Alison was able to break down her 3-step method, which we’ll walk you through below, but first, she discussed why this matters so much in today’s world with a never-ending “should storm”.
What is a Should Storm?
Alison explains that “should storm” refers to the culture of parenting criticism and anxiety where parents are constantly told what to do. The “should storm” tells parents that if they mess up, they’ll screw up their children for life. Some examples of parenting that involve a lot of “shoulds” are sleep training, feeding, discipline, and more. The “should storm” is the opposite of calm parenting.
Speaking of discipline, Alison and Kim speak freely on the word and how it can have such a stigma in the parenting world. Alison says that she would like to “reclaim” the word discipline to mean that we are raising our kids, coaching our kids, and regulating our kids. One of our favorite quotes of the episode comes from a discussion about discipline – “Successful parenting is about connecting with the kids we have at their particular developmental stage, and that means getting to know them a little – and you can’t do that when your brain is so crowded with all the things you SHOULD be doing.”
Both Kim and Alison agree that the “should storm” culture has gotten worse with the creation of social media. Now, there are “shoulds” coming at you from every social media channel from parenting groups on Facebook to Tik Tok’s and Instagram posts.
But, a lot of times, parents go looking for a “should” to guide them because they’re told they have to be a certain way or do a certain thing. The biggest issue with the shoulds is that they make us think there is a perfect way to parent. But, as Alison explains, it’s not good for kids to have a perfect parent. She asks listeners to imagine life with a “perfect” parent who never got irritated and was calm and even-keeled at all times. If we had parents like that, we wouldn’t understand emotions, growth, or self-regulation. Another favorite quote about this topic is “kids need us as we are, as regular human beings who are not perfect but love them like crazy”.
3 Steps to Calm Parenting
Alison breaks down her 3-step method to understanding your kids and finding joy in parenting.
Step 1 – Sigh
When Alison says “sigh”, she also means take a deep breath. When we take a moment to take a big deep breath with a long exhale, we are stepping out of the “shoulds”. Doing this gives us a moment in time to notice ourselves and our bodies. When we sigh, our bodies see it as taking us away from a place of danger.
Step 2 – See
When parents feel the weight of the “shoulds” they immediately react. But if you first sigh, and then see, you are noticing so many things. You are seeing your child’s body language, their face, what’s going on in their environment. Doing this gets your brain online and gets you working with the kid right in front of you, helping you see exactly how the child is feeling at that moment. “Seeing” takes awareness out of your own head and into your child.
Step 3 – Start
The start is the most exciting, and most open-ended step. This is where, as a parent, you get to experiment and take a different approach to calm parenting. Take what you learned from the “see” step and start acting in a way that will benefit your child right now. You can start something, start nothing or start something different. By starting, you’re gathering data from your kids and learning through every tough moment what works and what doesn’t.
How Calm Parenting Has Helped
As parents, we’re modeling behavior that’s free of perfectionism and that is the perfect example to our kids. Maybe our “start” won’t always be right, but we’ll always be trying. Alison is so touched by the vast number of parents who have shared how this simple method has turned around their parenting. It’s remarkable to show your kids with your own behavior that you’re learning and growing – even with mistakes.
As a parent herself, Kim said she felt a weight lifted off her shoulders with this discussion with Alison. Although Kim’s children are now grown, she knows that perfection was never the answer with her children. It’s all about acting and “starting” based on what we know about our own children. Each child, even in the same family, can be so different, and that means that you may make mistakes along the way. But, as long as your learning and growing, your kids will do just fine.