Eps 107: Casey is Solo and Homework is on Fire

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Skills, skills skills! Mama Tanya shares with our community an incredible example of how meeting your child where they are at can shift the outcome of your experience. It is easy for us as parents to become presumptive about misguided behavior  Remember how curiosity is key? By becoming curious with our kids, we are able to recognize the skills they still need to develop, as well as see the reasons for certain choices, which are not always what they seem.

Mama Tanya shares:

“Sorry for the long post but I need some advice. “ school, and they gave him homework to do over the weekend. He said he didn’t think it was fair to have homework on the weekends (which I agree), but on Saturday he set his homework on fire! Took the lighter when no one was watching, went outside like he was going to go play, and set it on fire burning half the page and dunking it in the pool.

When I found the half burned sheet of paper in the pool, I kept my cool but was obviously shocked that he would react that way to homework. I let him know that I thought it was a poor decision to 1. light something on fire (safety!) and 2. refuse to do his homework in such a permanent way. Internally I felt helpless and frantic to solve the problem, externally I let him know that I get it, homework sucks, and I reminded him that he could ask for help.

I asked him what made him set it on fire, was he feeling overwhelmed? Or angry? Or both?  He was visibly upset both about being caught and about homework so I didn’t preach or press the issue until later that day. When he was calm I talked to him about how sometimes we have to do things we don’t like (like washing dishes) but we can learn to do it anyway, it doesn’t have to be perfect, and we can ask for help.

I also explained that between two extremes (setting homework on fire and staying up till midnight doing homework- neither which are healthy) he could find a happy medium. He said he had not done his best and that he would try to do his best this week. – I felt like it was handled positively all in all.

But, when he told his father and co-parent (who lives elsewhere) over the phone, his dad immediately started saying that he wasn’t going to send him something previously promised, that he would take his computer and phone away if he ever did it again, and went into punishment mode.

So, what would you do? I thought about saying he couldn’t do his electronic time until he completed his homework. Or I would give him extra electronic time every time he completed his homework. But I am super conflicted. I feel like homework issues should be dealt with by the teacher. Natural consequences. Of course I want to help the teacher, but not sure how…”

Bullet Point:

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  • How to approach the reasoning behind the behavior

  • Kids do more in response with how they feel

  • Getting off the emotional freight train

  • Getting curious so we can be solution minded, see where child has influence

  • Parents assume children make choices rationally, when in fact they have limited skills

  • Revisiting Dr. Siegel’s “Palm of the Hand” example

  • Assessing what else can be going on inside their body

  • How to identify lacking skills and helping kids deal with the discomfort

  • Letting go of our perspective as the only perspective

  • Letting go of “should” (ex. They should know better)

Links mentioned in the show:

Podcast Episode 75 – Marcilie Boyle
Podcast Episode 100 – Dr. Tina Payne Bryson
Dan Siegel’s Brain Video
Casey’s Teaches Kids about the Brain


Mother’s Journey to Joyful Courage


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