Revisiting Eps: 323 Alternatives to Punishment Part 6

Episode 323

This week’s show is a solo show- the sixth and last episode in a series where Casey will dive deep into alternatives to punishment.

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Takeaways from the show

  • Navigating big behavior
  • Searching for support
  • The process of getting help for Rowan
  • Holding energy of confident authority
  • Novelty seeking
  • Brain science behind risk taking
  • Staying curious, connected, and calm
  • Prioritizing taking care of yourself

Today, Joyful Courage means paying attention to where rigidity and control are getting in the way of relationship and life skill development. This is currently alive for me in my relationship with my 17 year old son.

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teens, parenting, kids, waitlist, feel, week, therapy, support, child, disordered, adolescence, hear, adolescents, dopamine, teen years, eating, life, mindset shifts, program, novelty seeking
Casey O'Roarty

Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hello, listeners. Welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration, transformation and evolution as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work, real personal growth. And when we focus on our own learning and nurturing the connection we have with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for our relationships to remain intact and for life skills to be developed. My name is Casey over 30 I am your fearless host. I am a positive discipline trainer, a space holder a coach and the adolescent lead at spreadable. I'm also mom to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son, I'm walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. This show is meant to be a resource to you. And I work really hard to keep it real transparent and authentic so that you feel seen and supported. Today is a throwback show. It's part of the alternatives to punishment limited series that I put out last year, it's my firm belief that repetition is powerful. So I'm sharing these shows again, so that you can revisit these powerful concepts, and fine tune your practice. If you're a new listener, yay, hey, you're welcome. This is a great time to start to really dig into these tools. Please don't forget sharing truly is caring. If you love today's show, please pass the link around, you can snap a screenshot and post it on your social media in your stories or texted to your friends. Together, we can make an even bigger impact on families around the world. Thanks again for being here. Enjoy the show.

Casey O'Roarty 02:02
Hey, all right,

Casey O'Roarty 02:04
I am super excited. We've made it to week six, you guys, week six. This has been such a fun ride with all of you and has really stretched me into getting ever more clear on what it takes to truly release the conditioning we are all carrying from the traditional parenting we may have received so that we truly can move into the relationship centered approach that maintains dignity and respect for all I'm so honored to be on this path with you. I'm so honored. And if you're just joining us, I want to let you know that I have been sharing about alternatives to punishment for the past six weeks. So you may want to go back and start at episode 317. And listen on from there to get the full impact of the message that has been carried through this series. Okay, yay. Hi. So this week, I'm still coming at you from California. Did I mention that last week, I have been spending time down here with my mom and my brother and my extended family to support him. Through a health crisis, I am so deeply grateful to be able to do that. really grateful that my little family up north can function just fine without me. And grateful for my own spiritual and self care practice that has supported me in being with the always unfolding experience of life, you just don't know what's around the bend area. Where I want to go today on the show is I want to talk about how to navigate things. When your teens behavior is bigger than what your family can hold. I want to talk about novelty seeking. And I will be kind of doing a wrap up of this six episode series. So the past six weeks, we've been talking about mindset shifts and ways of being that support your team and the developmental process that they're going through as they move through the teen years. I believe with all of my heart that keeping relationships centered, staying curious, staying connected and calm is really the most important things that your teen needs during this time of their life. And sometimes things can spiral out and safety becomes a real concern. Sometimes we absolutely need outside help. So behaviors that I have experienced or seen with parents that I've worked with that I believe are bigger than the family can hold include depression and anxiety disorders, eating disorders, self harm, suicidal ideation, problematic drinking and or drug use unproven acted unsafe sexual activity, excessive reckless and or aggressive behavior, school refusal, vandalism, there's probably more to this list. But that's what I've got from now, I would also add maybe gang affiliation or any kind of access or use of weapons. When I say bigger than the family can hold, I mean, when it's time to get that outside help. So outside help might start with a family therapist, it might start with a parent coach, individual therapy for your child, although I think I'm really want you to hear this. I think if you are looking for a therapist for your child, you should for sure be on the hunt for one for you as well, because we're all involved in the dynamic that's happening in the family, which means we can all use that supportive person to help us process out make sense of what's going on and take a look at where you know, our responsibility in the dynamic lies. Now, some of our kids need more intensive intervention. So for some of our kids, that once a week talk therapy isn't enough, so they need more outpatient programs can look like the comprehensive DBT program that I did with my daughter, which I've shared about. It consisted of an hour of weekly therapy for her DBT therapy, as well as a 90 minute Skills Workshop that she and I both attended with other caregivers and adolescents. And that program was done with fidelity lasted six months. There are also outpatient programs that can be more involved programs where our kids are spending time, you know, daily all day in a facility that serves adolescents with individual and group therapy, but they're coming home at night. So it's like you drop them off in the morning, pick them up in the afternoon. Most of those programs also have a family therapy component as well. And then finally, some of our teens, what they need, what they can benefit from, is an inpatient treatment program. And there's a variety of these to choose from. Some of them are more focused on mental health. Some of them are focused on substance use and abuse and addiction. Some of them combine that some of them are focused on eating disorders, there's a lot to choose from, with a range of how much time our kids are spending there. I have clients who have kids that have been in a residential program for a few days to a few weeks to a few months, some of the clients I have served, have kids who have gone through wilderness therapy programs, it's really up to you to do the work of exploring these different offerings, I would absolutely encourage you to talk with other families about their experiences in the programs and at the facilities, and what the long term outcomes have been for their kids. So yes, for some of our children, we do need to search for support that can meet their needs outside of just what we can offer to them. And there is no shame in this, there is no shame, there is no blame. It is all a part of the journey that we are on with them. So finding resources, and getting them help is what matters. There's also the challenge of getting your team to agree to getting the help they need. So this is really tough. This is really tough. And I've been there. So I'm going to tell you my experience with this. And I reached out to my daughter today to make sure that I had permission to share about this. So many of you are familiar with parts of my story with Rowan, you've heard her tell it on the podcast. But in the fall of 2019 That was a really, really tough season of parenting for me and a really tough season of existing really for my daughter. At the time she was 16 Her life was completely being hijacked by intense anxiety, deep depression. She was struggling with body image and disordered eating. She seemed to be just disintegrating before my eyes. We weren't sure if she had anorexia like we just weren't really sure what was happening. All we knew was she couldn't eat, she would get anxiety around eating, which just made it even harder for her to eat to the point of nausea like it was really awful. And I didn't know how to help her and I had been trying to find help for her for the past two years, and nothing really stuck. The therapists and the doctors that I was setting her up with couldn't figure out how to create the connection, the meaningful connection that she needed to be a part of her healing process. And honestly, it was just hard to find help. It was hard to find help for adolescents See, the waitlists seemed endless. And I was really frantic. Her anxiety, like I said, was getting in the way of eating and fueling her body. And she just kept getting smaller and smaller. It was really, really scary. I was really scared, and I knew that what was happening for her was out of my wheelhouse, right, I knew that the solution lies outside of our little family. She did a call with a local eating disorder clinic. And I was actually really surprised and encouraged, I just told her like, Hey, we're gonna get on this call, where they're gonna kind of suss things out and tell us what the best, you know, plan for treatment that you need is they're gonna let us know what you need. I was really surprised and encouraged by how honest and candid she was, as she answered their questions about how she was feeling, what her habits were her relationship with her body and food. I was encouraged by how she responded to this phone interview. A few days later, they reached out to me via email and said that the only thing that they could recommend for her was full inpatient treatment. They said that the comorbidity of her anxiety and depression plus the disordered eating, and you know, she had some substance use going on. We're all indicators to them that the best course of action was to check her in, and I'm going to be totally honest with you. I did not expect that. I thought they would say intensive outpatient, I thought it was going to be an outpatient situation. I was floored and scared. And you know, all the things so much fear and doubt ran through me for the days that followed. And I really was like, how am I going to tell her this? How am I going to get her to go? I just couldn't visualize it. I was so scared. But I was also so scared about her not going. I was so scared about what the current reality was in our home, you know, and my lack of skills. It was just, it was a really, really tough time. My husband and I had a ton of conversations, and finally agreed that if the experts were saying that this is what she needed, then this is what she needed. And I knew, I knew that I needed to be 100% Confident in this decision that I needed to feel an embody that confidence as I navigated whatever her response was.

Casey O'Roarty 12:45
She knew she wasn't okay at this point. But I didn't think she was thinking that this was the direction that we were gonna go in. So a few days later, it was a Sunday night. And Ben and I had planned you know, okay, tonight, we're going to tell her and we're going to take her in on Tuesday, we're going to give her some warning. We thought that was the right thing to do. And we were all in the bedroom. And I said, Hey, we got the results. And this is what they recommended. And we are going to take you down and check you in on Tuesday. And at first she was really calm, okay. And then slowly, she became dysregulated. And the panic set in and she got up and she left and then she came back and she left and then had unhooked the battery on her car, just in case I don't know she ran out and tried to drive away. We didn't know how she would respond. It was awful. It was so hard. The next morning, I got up, I got my son to school and she was awake. And she said I haven't slept. You know, she was actually in the bathroom, like nauseous thinking she was gonna throw up. She was in full panic mode about this. We talked in the bathroom, we talked on the patio, you know, it was just kind of this endless cycle of her in panic and me just really trying to ground into being present, connecting with her validating her experience with also resolve that this is the course of action we were taking this is what's going to happen. I really worked to stay grounded and regulated so that she could have her experience and she had her experience. She said things like this will ruin our family. We're never going to come back from this. And I just had to really embody confidence that this was the right thing to do. And I remember saying, you know, this is bigger than what we can handle in our family. I remember saying this isn't how your life should feel. You can get help. That's what this place is for. We love you too much not to follow through and get you this help. And you know, I just kind of was a broken record and she, you know, deer in the headlights, so scared of the unknown, so uncertain about what lies ahead. And then finally, there was this moment where, like her energy kind of dropped a little bit. And she asked me, Well, what do I need to pack? And that moment, it was like, I could exhale, I felt like we were turning a corner into some acceptance. And I emailed the facility, asking just that, you know, we're bringing her in, we're coming in tomorrow morning, what is it that we need to bring. And a little while later, I got an email back. And that email said, Sorry, there are no beds, we can put her on the waitlist. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I couldn't believe what I just lived through and to hear that they had no beds, that there was a waitlist. I mean, I just can't even find the words to describe how that felt. I remember going back into the bathroom, and kind of leaning against the doorframe and looking at her and saying, Well, there's no beds. And so we're not going tomorrow, but they are putting you on a waitlist. So this is happening. And I need you to be on the team to help you like I need you to help yourself. What I didn't realize in that moment was the gift that I didn't see it as a gift. Because, well, I'll tell you about what that gift was in a minute. These were some of my absolute hardest parenting days. These were times that I really had to trust myself. And my intuition even as I had no idea what to do. I also had to source like trust, I had to practice letting go and letting trust show up in my body and my way of being right I needed to communicate it with Rowan in that morning. And that night, with more than just words, I really had to bring an energy of trust, I had to trust myself and my decision, so that she could also trust that I validated how she felt right, it is scary. And it is an unknown. And I said over and over. Like I mentioned, this is bigger than us life shouldn't be this hard and painful, like you need help. Our family needs this help. And full transparency. I don't know what it would have been like to drive her to the clinic and check her in. Because in the end, we didn't do that. The waitlist never panned out. And I think the experience my resolve the fact that we were fully committed to this decision, I flipped a crucial switch for her that, you know, made her realize like, oh, you know what, my parents are not fucking around. And we needed her to get on board to get better. And I think that really landed for her. Through this experience. We needed her to be on board to get better. And eventually she did get on board. She did get on board. So six months later, we were on a waitlist, another waitlist for this DBT program local to where we were six month waitlist. And that's when we started the DBT program took her a while to really use what she was learning. And she has since then taken responsibility for her mental health. She's grown so much, she is healing her relationship with her body and with food. You can listen to her talk about that period of time on episode 252. She doesn't really talk about the disordered eating in that episode. But that is a piece of what was going on and, and a really scary piece as well. And I share this story for two reasons. One, how you are showing up to these conversations about therapy about getting help, how you show up to these conversations, these events, these experiences with your teens matter whether it's we need therapy, or we're taking you to inpatient, whatever the conversation is, you have to embody that energetic confident authority, so that they can feel that security even as they are afraid or unsure. Right so and that takes practice and it takes incredible intention to really embody that energy. And the other reason I wanted to share this is to trust that one thing often can lead to another. be relentless in your work to get help for your child. And trust that the way things unfold may be just how they're meant to unfold even as it feels like oh my god another wait list or another, you know missed opportunity. Even as in the moment, it might not feel like things are working out. Trust that they are, I don't know if Rohan needed that inpatient treatment, or if we all just needed the opportunity to look reality in the face. Regardless, I am grateful for the unfolding. I'm grateful for the unfolding. Now I hear a lot from you, in the community that your teens are resistant to therapy, they're resistant to help. So again, find your confident authority. And then when it's something that they need, don't make it a choice. Hold the structure of this is happening, right? That's the structure this is happening, and then look for a place for freedom within the structure. So there's so many different ways to get help. I've been talking, promoting Team It's an affiliate of BetterHelp rights. There's online counseling that is available. A few weeks ago, or a couple months ago, I had Dr. Melanie McNally on, she's got a teen therapy bootcamp. That's an app that she's developed to offer a therapy in a way that really meets our teens where they're at, or you know, there's the traditional options, do your research and find something that's useful. I think what is important is letting our kids know, you don't have to feel this way. It doesn't have to be this hard. And I'm scared, I'm worried about you. This is bigger than us. Let's get some help. I will say again, you know, I started saying that to Rowan, I think she was 14. And it wasn't until, gosh, she was 17 when we started that DBT program. So it was the start of ninth grade, when things kind of started to go sideways. And it wasn't almost two and a half years later that we really found a rhythm and a program and an offering that was useful to her. So you know, it's a marathon, not a sprint, right. And sometimes it's a couple of false starts to find the right fit to find the right person to find the right program. Keep up the curiosity, keep up the connection. listen more than you speak. Don't try and talk them out of how they feel. But hold that energy of confident authority. And be sure to land the message of this isn't for me, this isn't about me. This is for you. So use it, right.

Casey O'Roarty 22:41
So yeah, and our family, some of the challenges were had to do with mental health. But that isn't the only reason kids might be going off the rails. Right. So we're going to talk a little bit about teen brain development as well, this week, specifically, their wiring for novelty seeking. So I mentioned last week that we would take some time to dig in here. And I think this part of teen brain development is so interesting. And I recently watched Dan Siegel, you guys know I'm a huge Dan Siegel fan. I've watched him talk about this. And I'm just blown away by how nature and biology has served us. And as a species as we move through childhood, adolescence and into adulthood. So the science is really cool. I'm gonna kind of tease it apart a little bit. From zero to 12. The brain is like a sponge that pulls in all the information it's receiving. It takes it stores it away, around 12, the brain starts to prune away the things it isn't using are practicing. And our kids move from being generalists to being specialists. That's how Dan Siegel put it. So they knew a lot about a lot of things. And then as they move into adolescence, they continue to learn and grow in the things that they are interested in practicing. Using, they continue to grow in the areas they use, the brain becomes more efficient with the skills they are processing and practicing. Everything else kind of falls away. The teen years exist as that transition period between childhood and adulthood, right. And we need our kids or teens to be willing to step forward into what is unfamiliar and uncertain. We need them to be willing to try new things, eventually leave the house take care of themselves take healthy risks, right? We need them to be bold, and we need them to be brave. So what Dan Siegel talks about in this video, and the link I'm gonna make sure the link are in the show notes. What Dan Siegel talks about in this video is the dopamine reward system that develops during adolescence. So what is dopamine? Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how we feel pleasure is a big part of our unique human ability to think and to plan and it helps us strive focus and find things interesting here's the crazy thing during adolescence, the dopamine baseline is lower than other parts of our life. But when the release happens when we find pleasure, when we do something that's pleasurable, the amount of dopamine that's released is actually higher than at other times of our lives. And what this means is there's a reason that when our kids aren't doing anything, they're bored. They are, they're bored, they have less dopamine in their system. And when they decide to do something new or novel, or get an idea that they dive into man, it is a dopamine flood, and it feels good, it feels so good. The other thing that's happening is shared by Dr. Siegel is that teens experience hyper rational thinking, what that means is they focus on the positive aspect of a choice or decision that they're thinking about making, and they minimize the potential risk or danger. So they do it knee deep know that it might not be the smartest thing to do, but they don't care, because they'll probably get away with it. Hyper rational thinking awesome. And in a lot of ways, it truly is awesome, because otherwise none of us ever would have left home, we wouldn't have even left the cave, right if it wasn't for adolescence. And different kids have different thresholds of novelty seeking. There's definitely kids that are wired to seek more novelty than others. You are the expert on your child. And being an expert or knowing your child means that you can be instrumental in supporting them with seeking out healthy activities that get that need met, things that provide a thrill. Things like rock climbing, open mic nights karaoke, mountain biking, skateboarding, go kart racing, horseback riding, some of these things may be more of a thrill than to your child than to others. But my point is that there are activities out there that can get the itch that they have scratched. So it's less likely that your child isn't drag racing down Main Street in the middle of the night. Right. So here we are, again, back at the importance of knowing your child of nurturing the relationship in a way that allows them to feel seen and heard and attuned to, it's a lot. It's super layered, right? And it requires you to do real interpersonal work, as well as intra personal work, you cannot phone it in as a parent of a teenager. You can't it's just you can't phone it in, you've got to show up, you've got to do the work, right? Otherwise, not only is it going to be really tough for your kids, but it's not gonna be any fun for you. Right? I mean, there's definitely even when we are someone who does a lot of this work, there's definitely not such fun moments. But you can really help yourself by tuning in learning, growing, doing your own work. You also need to be sure to be getting your needs met. You have to be taking care of yourself, as you move through these years with your teen, especially if your teen is one that is really struggling really having a hard time. Ben and I had a couple's counselor tell us early on when we were just starting to struggle with our teen she said, you know, the most important thing you guys can do is get a life. And it made sense. Otherwise, our life is spent worrying about our teens in fear, looking for control. No bueno. You have to take care of you. You have to it isn't negotiable. And if you don't feel like you have enough time to spend on you and taking care of you, we need to get on the phone and work that belief out. Taking Care of Yourself puts you in the physical, emotional and mental headspace that you need to make decisions to be present. To say no, taking care of yourself gives you what you need to be on the ride that is parenting teenagers. And as many of you know, there are weeks, sometimes months or even years that can feel brutal during the season of parenting. And we have to be in shape to run those metaphorical marathons. We may be showing up as our best doing all the right things, and the experience is still brutal, right? Take care of you so that you can endure. And not only that, trust that the journey your teen is on is their journey you don't know in the moment you don't know what they're learning or growing through the hardest times of their teen years that will serve them in the future. You don't know how things are going to turn out. What supports me is that there is purpose to everything. That's my belief. There is purpose to To everything being 15 being 16, being 17, that was such a small part of my overarching 48 year life story that continues to unfold, it will be the same for your child, there is plenty to look back on. And the goal would be for them to remember. Yeah, it was hard. And yeah, my parents were consistently there for me. Right? I learned through what I went through. What do you think about that? What do you think about that? Because that's what I got for you. That's how I'm wrapping things up today. That's why I'm wrapping up this six weeks of alternatives to punishment. How are you feeling? What did this series offer to you? Do you feel like you have more tools? Was this useful? Do you feel like you have more questions? How are you integrating? How have you been integrating what you learned? So I want to encourage you to start the series over now that you've been through it once, and I do this all the time with podcasts, go back, reflect on what your takeaways are, and then go back and re listen to the series and see what else comes to the surface for you. What makes more sense, the second time around, jump into the joyful courage for parents of teens Facebook group, and share what you're taking away from this series, hear from others who've been along for the ride these last six weeks, or if you're really sitting inside of it. If this is new, if you're feeling overwhelmed by the mindset shifts, and the tools and the possibility of being with behavior in a different way, you can reach out directly to me, Casey at joyful Is my email. And I would love to hear from you. I'd love to hear the questions that you have. I would love to share with you different things that are helpful. Other podcast episodes that might be useful. I love hearing from you. It's true, I do love to hear from you,

Casey O'Roarty 32:01
I'm sure you just noticed the change in audio quality. This is Casey Hey, I'm just jumping in as we wrap up this series, and say that I'm really grateful. I'm grateful for the resources that have been created over time, especially these resources that I can bring back into the community. And we can roll around in it again, I'm excited for all of you new listeners to have had the opportunity to move through this series. And those of you that have been around, you know, we can't hear this enough times. I encouraged you a minute ago to go back and listen again. For some of you this might be the third time you've listened to this series. But yeah, learning is good, right learning is good and revisiting and, you know, remembering and playing with things and coming back and hearing it again is so powerful. So thanks for hanging in there with me. I really appreciate you I'll be back next week with a new interview and new solo shows. So starting next Thursday, you'll be getting brand new thoughts and ideas from me solo show wise, appreciating you loving you have a great weekend.

Casey O'Roarty 33:23
Thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you so much to my spreadable partners, Julieta and Alana as well as Danielle and Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting this show out there and helping it to sound so good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay better connected at BT sprout. Tune back in on Monday for a brand new interview and I will be back solo with you next Thursday. Have a great day.

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