My guest today is Dr. Matthew Lederman, and he’s here today to talk about connection and nonviolent communication.
Dr. Lederman explains what nonviolent communication really means and what being resourced looks like. We talk about how so much plays into communication, including your intention & tone. He shares common unmet needs in children: autonomy, wanting to be heard, and knowing that their needs matter. Dr. Lederman shares his tip for staying connected with his kids when he’s triggered and how to involve kiddos in problem solving. We get into how to rebuild trust, how to find empathy, welcoming feedback, identifying underlying needs, and meeting our own needs for health & safety. We wrap up with some baby steps that you can bring into practice today.
Together with his writing and business partner, Dr. Alona Pulde, he has been Touted as a doctor of the future and with their work supported by many experts they combine conventional Western medicine, Chinese medicine, Lifestyle medicine, Nonviolent Communication, Polyvagal Theory, and Trauma-Informed, Somatic Principles & Pain Reprocessing to create their groundbreaking health paradigm.
Dr. Lederman has co-authored six books, most recently, “Wellness to Wonderful,” interweaving medical science, psychology, spirituality, and life wisdom to help people achieve lasting health, vibrancy, peace, and joy.
He is a board-certified Internal Medicine physician & Certified Trainer of Nonviolent Communication. He is particularly passionate about integrating mind-body health treatment and providing second medical opinions for patients with persistent chronic disease.
Dr. Lederman has moved on to co-found a new venture, WeHeal, which is the culmination of decades of learning and practical experience organized into an easily accessible program that does everything just short of guaranteeing lasting health, joy and satisfaction in your life.
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Takeaways from the show
- What is nonviolent communication?
- Being resourced
- Communicating with adolescents
- Common unmet needs in children
- Staying connected when you’re triggered
- Rebuilding trust
- Welcoming feedback from our kids
- Why teens pull away from their parents
- Meeting our own needs for health & safety
What does joyful courage mean to you
Joyful courage, to me, would be the courage to check-in and do as much in your life with that joyful energy, instead of that obligation energy, to really connect with your choice and intention and to do as much as possible because it’s joyfully contributing to you and other people, and to have the courage to do that when the world around you may have educated you to focus on what’s right or what’s expected but to have the courage to stay in integrity with your needs and values.
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Casey O'Roarty, Dr. Matthew Lederman
Casey O'Roarty 00:04
Hey, welcome to the joyful courage podcast a place for inspiration and transformation as we try and keep it together, while parenting our tweens and teens. This is real work people and when we can focus on our own growth, and nurturing the connection with our kids, we can move through the turbulence in a way that allows for relationships to remain intact. My name is Casey already I am your fearless host. I'm a positive discipline trainer, space holder coach and the adolescent lead at Sprout double. I am also the mama to a 20 year old daughter and 17 year old son walking right beside you on this path of raising our kids with positive discipline and conscious parenting. My guest today is Dr. Matthew Letterman together with his writing and business partner Dr. Elana poled. He has been touted as a doctor of the future and with their work supported by many experts. They combine conventional Western medicine, Chinese medicine, lifestyle medicine, nonviolent communication, polyvagal theory and trauma informed somatic principles and pain reprocessing to create their groundbreaking health paradigm. Dr. Letterman has co authored six books, most recently wellness to wonderful, interweaving medical science, psychology, spirituality and life wisdom to help people achieve lasting health, vibrancy, peace and joy. He is a board certified internal medicine physician and certified trainer of nonviolent communication. He's particularly passionate about integrating mind body health treatment, and providing second medical opinions for patients with persistent chronic disease. Dr. Letterman has moved on to co found a new venture we heal, which is the culmination of decades of learning and practical experience organised into an easily accessible programme that does everything just short of guaranteeing lasting health, joy and satisfaction in your life. I'm so glad that you're here. Enjoy the show. Hi, Dr. Letterman, welcome to the podcast to be here. So you have an extensive bio, and so much generous time and effort into the work and resources around wellness and living our best lives. Talk a little bit about where this passion stems from for you, how did you get into doing what you do?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 02:34
So I got into nutrition and lifestyle medicine, because I really focus on wanting to help people and change lives and improve health. And conventional medicine works for some areas. But for a lot of chronic disease, it wasn't enough. So stumbling into that. And then seeing the power of that I was really moved and inspired to bring that to patients. And over time, for different reasons I got exposed to nonviolent communication and the power of connection, he started bringing that into the healing paradigm. And what's really been fun is to connect the connection, and its impact on our inflammation and chronic disease. As well as learning the tools of how to deepen connection and repair disconnection using nonviolent communication as a way of doing that. And once I had those tools, I struggled myself I grew up and lived in a way that was quite disconnected. And I had a very authoritarian parenting experience as a child, and then started doing that as a parent. And when I learned not only communication and saw the power of it could impact my relationship with my wife and my kids. And so this is amazing. And then wanted to get better and better. Because when I saw people that were skilled at it said, Whoa, I want to be able to do what they're doing. And how do they know to talk that way, think that way and be that Zig instead of zag. And when I learned, it worked for me as well. And it's something that I was so passionate that I wanted to teach other people. And that's when I pursued the certification to be a trainer.
Casey O'Roarty 04:10
I'm really excited to talk about this because it is something that comes up a lot in different domains that I float around in. I think what will be really useful for me and for listeners is to have you define and explain beyond just oh, it's communication that's not violent. But what is nonviolent communication? What does it really mean? What are the principles that go along with it?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 04:32
It's I'm glad you asked because it's not really about communication. It's not so much the words that come out of your mouth as the way you think and your intention with other people. And when you shift your intention towards connection, and you think in a way that you want to care about everybody's needs equally and trust, that there's not a scarcity of resources, but an abundance of resources if we all worked Together, we can get to something amazing and that the focus is always on the quality of connection between, well, when I'm resourced and connected to my skills, my focus is on the quality of the connection with the other person, not about winning or being right or getting my way, which sometimes is hard. And then as a parent, there's times where I want my way and and I named that. And I'll say, right now I am making a demand. And I mourn that I can't think of another way, but I'm still under resourced. And so it's not that we don't make demands, it's not that we're always connected. It's not that we're always resourced, but we're owning it, we're naming it and even in that disconnected state, we can be more connected.
Casey O'Roarty 05:39
Talk about being resourced. What does that mean to you, when you say that,
Dr. Matthew Lederman 05:43
so to me being resourced is sort of my energy tank and my family, we have something we say our shake, our energy shake, or our goodwill shake, which is you know, it's full. And then as I am tired, and I'm hungry, you know, I haven't moved around all day. So I'm sort of a little bit stuck there, or I've spent a lot of time, you know, mediating disharmony and disconnection, my shape gets lower and lower, I become more and more under resourced. So for example, I know that if I choose to stay up late and work or watch a movie, and I only get six hours instead of seven or eight hours, I'm going to be on a resource the next day, and I'm going to be more likely to snap and my children. I just know that. And if I make that choice, I might even tell my kids, I didn't sleep last night, and that was my choice. And I'm sorry, but I might have a little more tone with you than I normally do. Can you let me know when you hear tone? So that I can repair that? Yeah, so they're helping me but I'm naming it and I'm aware that I'm under resourced. Does that make sense? Yeah, totally,
Casey O'Roarty 06:42
totally. I've been talking a lot about threshold, and our threshold window. And so it's like as the you know, using your language as that energy shake depletes. In my language, it would be my threshold window actually gets smaller. And so things that might be something I roll with, with a really big threshold window and being really resourced, and I love that you brought up sleeping, because oh my god, yeah, what is it under seven hours, and I'm a wreck hijk It's funny too, because I will say that to my kids, anytime we have to go to the airport. Like, I'm so sorry, we all know that I become a little freaky at the airport. This is extra stress, and I'm less tolerant of you know, silliness, and jokes and extra clutter, meaning like the clutter of my people's behaviour, and we all kind of laugh about it, and I own it. Right, I own it. And yes, I love that you brought up the repair too, because I think could really easily become an excuse. You know, like, well, I didn't get enough sleep. So now you all need to behave a certain way. Right? Versus I didn't get enough sleep, I might check my tone. And, you know, when the threshold window is really small, and I spill out as not the greatest parenting moment, you know, I'm gonna own it and recognise it and so that we can move forward, I really appreciate that. My listeners, like I told you are parents of teenagers. And I'm hearing you as well. And I'm just nodding my head and alignment around that connection is so much more than the words that we use. So I'm really appreciating that communication is so real during adolescence. How old are your kids? Do you have adolescence? Are you here, you look kind of young.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 08:30
My one daughter is going to be 12. And then the others almost 10. And they're just starting in the creeping in. And then I have some nieces and nephews. Yeah. And I work with a lot of energy. And I have cousins that they were teenagers, and I'd work with them. And now they're getting out of their teenage years. So a lot of exposure.
Casey O'Roarty 08:48
Yeah, so you've seen it, you see adolescents in action. And it's so interesting. And I'd love to hear just from your medical background. I mean, I've studied and seen resources where simple things like boys often will read a neutral facial expression as aggressive or like, even just this morning, literally with my 17 year old son, we were working on, we just opened up the common app, which those of you that are listening, who are heading into college application time know what the common app is, it's the new way of applying to college. And we were talking about whether or not he should put a personal essay in when it's optional. And of course, I was like you should. And he was really like why. And as we were talking about it, I could feel his agitation. And he said, you are talking to me like I'm five. And I did not feel as though I was talking to him like he was five and it's just like communication is so energetic. You know, there's so much you already mentioned tone. There's so much messaging that we're deliver hurrying outside of our words, and so quickly and easily, especially depending on how resourced we are, I'm just going to use your word because I love it can go sideways. So how do we apply nonviolent communication in our parent child relationships? What does that look like? Just on the daily?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 10:21
There's a couple of things here. One is our physiological state will affect how we sound and how we look. If listeners are familiar with the polyvagal theory, talk to us. Yeah, right. So they talk about how if you're in a threat, or high alert state, your body is going to shift into defensive postures. And that means it's going to hear different tones and frequencies more selectively, its face is going to look different, your tone of your voice is going to be different, the flow of your movements of your head are going to be different. There's so much that ships that can signal High Alert potential threat. On the flip side, if you're feeling safe and secure, and you have a sense, for example, that your needs are being met, there's no threat to your needs. Your face is going to soften your eyes gazing look different, your voice and sound different and you're going to hear different sounds preferentially. So it could be and this happens with my wife and I quite a bit. If you ever saw the Jani Laurel phenomenon where there was this sound, and 50% of people when they heard that sound, perceive that as the word Jani and the other 50% precede that same sound as the word Laurel. Oh, wow. What was really interesting was we use that say, but what were they saying? Were they saying Yanni, or Laurel didn't matter what were 50% people perceive the same sound differently. So what we were saying was, sometimes I'll say something and I'll have no intention of tone, but either are mobilised, so there's tone in my voice, or my wife is mobilised, and she's hearing tone when there's no tone of my voice. Both of those can happen. So rather than arguing if there was tone or not just say, Oh, you heard tone. And then you can empathise with them? Like imagine you're feeling defensive, maybe you want care and respect? Or, Hey, do you have a second to hear that I was not intending telling you my voice, even if that's how you perceived it, because I don't feel reactive right now. So my point is, is that the tone in your voice, and how you're being perceived can be different. So your children, if they're under resourced, and mobilise, can hear tone when you didn't have any or definitely were not mobilised? Vice versa, you can be mobilised and not intended. But because you're mobilised, you're transmitting tone. So I think I want people to be aware that there's lots of reasons tone can be perceived, that have nothing to do with your intention of what you're trying to communicate. Does that make sense?
Casey O'Roarty 12:45
Yeah, that totally makes sense. In so many relationships, that makes sense. And it's fascinating to think that we can physiologically be predisposed, depending on our inner experience, to hear to selectively hear things a certain way that is fascinating. And it makes sense going back to my morning with my son, it makes sense that he could hear that in me. And you'll have to let me know if this was a useful response. I said to him, like we're at the beginning of this process. And there's going to be other points along the way that are going to feel a little sticky. And so we get to really figure out how to talk about things like optional college personal essays, or, you know, whether or not you should apply to schools that you're not really sure you even want to go to, we get to have these conversations without you feeling defensive and me feeling misunderstood. And so I said to him, I'm going to request that you let me know a better way of communicating so that you can hear me differently. Was I practising nonviolent communication?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 14:03
Yeah, I think your intention, your intention is what's nonviolent communicate, right? If you're thinking, you know, I need to be able to tell him my opinion, wherever I want to write, even if you use the most beautiful nonviolent communication language, that intention is not in DC because your intention is not about connecting. It's about doing what you want to do, right? If you're attached to an agenda, if you want a certain result, you're automatically not using NBC and that's what I learned early on was I had all the, you know, that they talked about observations and feelings and needs and requests. And I had all this beautiful NBC language, memorise, but my goal was still to get what I want, right, or to get them to do what I want. So I didn't have the MDC intention. Yeah. And that's more important than the language. Yeah. What's most important is how it landed. And did you care how it landed? If you cared about how it landed? Then you would check in, whether you're signing it here. felt attached to a certain outcome, then you would feel the tightness in you, and when you sense tightness in the other person, even though to stop and check in because the connection is starting to break. But to me, it's about focusing on that connection at all times, and being willing to stop mid sentence and saying, Hey, I'm trying to contribute with this information. And I can see that it's not landing as a gift. Yeah, I'm gonna stop. Because I don't want anything I say to Everland like anything other than a gift. Unless it's Watch out, you're about to get hit by a car, then I don't care how it lands in that moment. Right? Right, right. But other than that, I'm my goal is, if I'm trying to contribute, and make sure you're receiving your contribution,
Casey O'Roarty 15:38
yeah, I love that. And I cracked up when you said gift, because I could just imagine, I mean, I could see myself being like, Babe, to my husband, I'm really offering you a gift here. Turn your ears on. And that's the other thing that I'm hearing you say. And this is something that in my personal life is really coming up, which is presence, and being present with ourselves to even notice the tension or being present enough in the moment to recognise the indicators, energetically, or just what we can see that tension is showing up for the other person really requires us to be present. And you already said, like, it's not about being right. You know, and listeners, I know that we think we're right all the time. And we get to care more about the person, the human that we're in relationship with, then we care about being right. And I think that is where we get to let go of that. And notice the tension, because we're not going to get where we want to go, which I think all of us just ultimately want to be in connected loving relationships. And we can't get there. If we're too hung up on, you know, like getting that point across or making sure that you know, I think oftentimes, as parents of teenagers, things get pretty wild sometimes. And this old idea of, well, they need to feel the pain, right? Like they need to know they've done the wrong thing. And so we really got to land it. And that can look like you know, consequences or punishments, or lectures or yelling or whatever. But ultimately, you know, what we want is that connected, loving relationship. And so it is a matter of recognising Oh, they're completely tuned out. This isn't a gift. This is no longer a gift. Right? Yeah. And that's
Dr. Matthew Lederman 17:33
what's to stop and say, How is this landing? How are they being impacted and being willing to switch course, right, or to say that you can't switch course like to me when you want, everything we're doing is to meet a need. Everybody has the same needs, different needs and different moments and different strategies, they like to meet their needs. They all have the same needs like safety, security, food, autonomy, care, love, predictability, right? Those are all universal human needs.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 18:09
Now, when you feel attached to saying something, or you feel like, hey, I want them to feel the impact the consequence? What do you think your need is? Right? Because that's a need. And often there's a couple of needs there, right? One is empathy. I want you to feel the pain that I'm feeling. Right, what you did, really impacted me, I want that to matter. And I want you to feel how it hurts or how it impacts me. That's one that's why do you think a little kid hits another kid? Yeah, they want. One of the things they're needing is empathy, hey, you hurt me, I want you to feel how bad I feel. It's a tragic strategy to meet their need for it. But it's a need nevertheless. And then another one is predictability. Hey, if I want to make sure this happens differently in the future, right? So even if this really is uncomfortable or unpleasant, maybe you're going to remember in the future more effectively. So that's another need predictability. Right. Another one is I want this to matter. Right? If it's pain, you know, it gets your attention, it's gonna matter. I want to be heard. It's another thing that happens or parents, you know, and there's three needs in children that are chronically I would say under met. That's a word, right? There's autonomy. They want to have choice, right? They want to be heard, that's an another one. And they want to trust that their needs matter as much as their parents. So autonomy to be heard, and they want their needs to matter equally. And if we could do those, and then if we changed our goals, a lot of times the parents think they're doing so for the kids, but it's really the parents need for peace of mind. Right? One of the biggest needs for a parent is peace of mind the kids going to be okay. Yeah, right. So we want to switch our need is not to make good adults. As a parent I would define success instead as I can enable to stay current active with my child as much as possible, and I can support their authentic selves coming out and being accepted, you know, their authenticity is not suppressed. If I can do that, that's how I define success as far as parenting. And that can look a lot of different ways, right, which is the scary thing for parents. But to me, that lightens the load, versus I need them to, you know, be a certain profession show up in a certain way, behave in a certain, you know, all of that gets very weighty.
Casey O'Roarty 20:30
i So appreciating this, you're speaking exactly into what I tried to send out to parents 100%. And, you know, I was gifted with kids that are taking a stand for those needs have taken a stand for those needs in ways that are really like, Whoa, really challenged me. As far as do I really believe what I'm preaching? Right. And, you know, I want to just highlight what you just said, those kids needs have autonomy and choice being heard, trusting that their needs matter as much as their parents, I mean, I'm really hoping that all the listeners are like, ding, ding, ding, having those light bulb moments, because I mean, I just think about all the clients that I work with, who are really struggling with their teens, and a lot of what they're struggling with, comes right back to these needs, not being met. And I really appreciated the languaging, around the parents need for empathy when things are hard or scary when our kids are making big mistakes. Because yeah, that is the come from, it's like, you need to understand how this feels. For me, this is terrifying, right? I'm really scared. And I need you to know how scared I am. And so I'm going to do all of these wonky things, thinking that that's really going to land and make you understand.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 21:57
And it's very hard to support empathic presence from a child, when you are triggered, we can do it, it took me five years to figure out how to do it. And I'm not always able to figure it out a little thing that I do with both of my daughters, that allows me to get my need for empathy net,
Casey O'Roarty 22:18
tell me tell us what it is. Give you a scenario.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 22:20
Like an example, my younger daughter will leave stuff around the house is like a trail of her stuff, all the sock shows, take them off and leave them on the floor. After shower, there's all our dirty clothes on no matter how many times I think I must have read probably 1000 times. And she really wants to remember, but for whatever reason, it just doesn't. It's not important to her. And I think it is important to her as far as because she knows is important to me. But you know, she would rather wait until she runs out of clothes, and then figure it out at that point, versus have them in the wash ready to go proactively. That could be her strategy, at least until finishing up. But anyway, what I would do now is I used to say, Jordan, right there that tone, there's disconnection with that tone, she goes right to fear, need for security's up safety, attachment and acceptance. Shame is starting to flow. Right there. Right, so I'm already disconnected. And then I'll go on and be like, how many times now asked a question, which is one of the most violent things you can do with a child, particularly when you're angry? How many times do I have to write I'm basically saying what's wrong with you, I'm about to tell you what's wrong with you, you know, and then point out how she's failed. Again, that was the old strategy. Now I have this thing where I see the clothes, and I put my hands in the air. And there's a joke with one of my co workers where I used to, there'll be something wrong, and I'd start typing to try and fix it. And I'd be doing it so fast that I'd be getting ahead and causing more of a mess. And she would email me or text me and say, step away from the computer and put your hands in the air. Right. So it's sort of like this funny thing of like, Matt, you're making a mess, put your hands in the air, so you don't keep making a mess. So I told my kids, I've most importantly, want to be connected. So I'm going to put my hands in the air went on. And that helps me remember it as much as signal to them. That my focus is connection. So now I'm actually standing with my hands in the air and I'll say, hey, I really want to be connected in this moment. Right? And then I go ahead and step further. That calms me down. And then I empathise with, I see their good intentions first. So I'll say I know that you want follow through with our agreements. I know you value that integrity. I know you want to care for me and my needs matter to you. So I want you to hear that I know that already. And I'll pause there and say yes, thank you. So now they're defensiveness goes down, because they can't give me empathy. If they're defensive. And then once they're no longer defensive, because I've just seen them feeling defensive has a need to be seen. Right? that hey, I'm a good person. I'm not this bad kid. So now I've already proactively dressed that. The next step is say, Hey, do you have space to give me empathy now. And I'll actually call it that. Because when you give me I don't need you to feel bad about yourself, what actually heals my heart is just getting empathy. And I feel so much better when you can give me empathy, which is just telling me how you imagine I feel when I see your socks on the ground. Do you have space to do that? And they'll say, Yeah, Dad, because I'll say when you and then they'll say, Dad, I imagine when you see the socks on the ground, you get really annoyed because you want the house cleaned up and you want, and you've told me a million times. So now they're saying what I used to say, I totally tell you tell me your nine times. And I'll say, yeah, and they'll say, Dad, I bet that's really irritate me, like, Oh, thank you so much. My heart feels so much better right now. You just helped me heal in that moment, by doing that, by giving me that empathy that was so powerful. And they'll say, oh, and they have a big smile, like, Oh, my God, they just did something for me, right? And then I'll say, Okay, so now I feel better. You can I'll check in and you feel good, great. What can we do about the socks? Can we sort of gamify this so that instead of when I say now I'm going to the request and strategy stage, because we've already gotten a really good quality connection? I got my MBA they got there. And today, we're going to strategy now. Now when I because people will say, when you see the socks on the floor, that's what's irritating you. That's not true. It's irritating me as my thoughts that I don't matter. And then I have a thought that my kid is this inconsiderate kid, and I don't know how they're gonna grow up to be successful because they live their socks on the floor all the time.
Casey O'Roarty 26:18
Now, they're probably going to be dead. Right? Exactly. Because the socks are.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 26:21
So that to me, is people I have to help them understand that that's what's making me angry. My thoughts. Yeah. Because they'll say, Are you sure? I said, Well, what happens if your daughter agreed to give you $1,000 Every time you saw her socks on the floor, and I'd say, then I will be very happy to see socks. I would no longer be angry. So the socks are not making me angry, right? Because if I connect the socks to making 1000 bucks, I'm happy. If I connect the socks to my thoughts, they're inconsiderate. They don't care about me. And I'm a terrible dad raising a terrible kid. Now the socks are going to be irritating. Do you see what I'm saying? So now? Yeah, how can we make the socks exciting? So what I did was I said to my daughter, I said, Would you be willing to give me a five minute massage every time I see the signs? Right? Maybe like, put about four minutes? You know? So we negotiate, you know, and? Or I could say, hey, you know, would you be willing to give me five bucks? Because I'll say to them? Do you want to put the socks? Like yeah, did I really want to contribute to you, I know that you want the house clean, but I just forget. And I say okay, well, what can make this fun doing this? Right? So? And then I also help them say, How can I help you remember? Would it be like putting an alarm, so that at 5pm, you check the whole house for Sox? So we come up with different strategies that work for them. Because if I just depend on them remembering, that's not a successful strategy. I help them set alarms, write notes, put a sticker on the bathroom mirror, and we have that deal that, can I get $1 or a massage? Or hey, you're gonna help me do something when I asked them because that's the key, it's a punishment if I impose it on them, right? But if I ask them, hey, what would be sort of like this fun play way that when I see the socks, you know, I know it matters to you. And I sort of get a little bit of a win. So I get a little bit excited. And then they'll come up with something. And it's a fun way to do you see, I'm saying but you see how it took a little bit of time to get the empathy and go through that. But downstream, there's no disconnection, there's no repair that I have to deal with. I don't feel bad about myself. It saves time. And it also gets us out of this submission, rebellion dynamic that parents are in with their young kids, they submit. And then when they become teenagers, they shift over to rebellion. It's all that same suppression of the kids needs and lack of autonomy dynamic going on. I want to support the opposite of that.
Casey O'Roarty 28:36
Yeah. And what I really liked was the piece around, like, what's going to be helpful for you? How can I help you because I think then what we're talking about is not a kid that we're holding, as, you know, just a kid who doesn't care. And instead, it's, and I think about Ross screen says this a lot. He talks about lagging skills. It's a kid who just doesn't have the skills to remember, right? Like or not, maybe it's not even skills, but it's, you know, all of us need a little something when we're trying to make a behaviour change, or we're trying to remember to do something, visuals, you know, auditory reminders, those kinds of things. That's actually helpful. That's helping your daughter or helping my kiddo in the remembering, but it also I'm what I'm hearing you say it's also like, okay, that little alert happened. And I care enough about my dad and our space that I'm actually going to also follow through when the reminder comes up. Now, let's fast forward. Let's fast forward six years, and now you've got and maybe, you know, I'm thinking about my listeners who perhaps are the parent who is saying like, Hey, listen, the food dishes in your broom, I'm totally over them. You need to put them away. Why can't you remember? Right? So and now? It's like, okay, I want to shift into this different way of communicate. Seeing what is it, you know, and I was just on a call earlier and we were talking about this, what is the work to set up a new way of being with our kids? Because I imagine, like 15 year old who I am, you know, showing up with this new way of communicating with them. I'm thinking about teenagers, especially ones that know us well enough to be like, What is this? This is a ploy, right? Like, this isn't really you? How do we bridge into a different way of communicating with our teens, when there have been patterns that have been hurtful and not useful? It's owning
Dr. Matthew Lederman 30:33
the patterns owning you were doing the best you could, and then collaborating, we believe in collaborative parenting. So it's by saying, hey, I really don't like how I showed up as a parent, I was doing the best I could. But I've learned, you know, I listen to this podcast, I read this book, I want to try it differently. I'm not going to get it right, it's going to be a little messy, it'll probably feel a little funny. But I want you to hear my underlying intention is to show up in a way that's more connected and supportive of your needs to and I would check in, I say, are you willing to go on this little ride with me? Because it may feel a little funny. So right away, I'm focused on connection, I'm not saying oh, this is the right way to be a parent. Now I'm going to do that. I'm saying, hey, I want to tell them what my need is, and see what comes up for them. And maybe that'll be a time to just connect around the pain, Hey, have you know, is there a lot of pain because of those, you know, those three needs I talked about probably feeling like they're not being met over and over and over again, you'd be like, if you don't do what I say there's going to be a big mess, right? Remember everything kids do? Or not do is to meet a need even rolling their eyes. So when a kid rolls their eyes, my daughter is very good, right? I'll say, Oh, when I see, here's the observation. When I see you roll your eyes like that, I imagine you're feeling a little frustrated or irritated. That's the feeling. And maybe something is not meeting your needs that I just said, right? So your needs matter. You want me to care about your needs, too. But you're not sure how to tell me, right? So you want to make sure he has a need for harmony, too. So she's suppressing her needs. It's just popping out through an eye roll. Because she wants to keep harmony, because she knows it's gonna may blow up, if she expresses what she's really thinking. And a lot of times what she's really thinking is in words that are going to be very hard for the parent to hear. So then the parent needs to help them translate to, but do you see how everything they're doing? Is to meet needs. So when a kid is saying this sounds weird. What are you talking like that mom? What's there need? Authenticity? Trust, okay, is he trying to manipulate me? Right? Is this authentic? Can I trust this? What's your goal here? You just want to get me to do what you want again, just in a nicer way. No way. So then you have to empathise with that. Yeah, maybe over the years, you've had a hard time we've lost a lot of trust.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 32:50
So one of things I want to do is build trust back with you. Here's how you can help me I did that with my older daughter. When I first started NBC, she was already old enough that autonomy had been definitely damaged. And I said, I want you to tell me every time you hear bossy, just telling me say dad, but you're hearing I'm hearing bossy right now. And if I don't say thank you, we came up with something. I remember what it was, I think it was the final say, Hey, thanks for letting me know, because she'd be nervous. If I sound bossy and said, Where did they retaliate? And yell even louder, like say, so at the time, I needed to really try and get her to do it. I think we came up with if I lose my temper, you know, it was on if it was, you know, lollipop, or it was staying up later, but it was some like really serious thing that she was like, boy, I hope my dad doesn't handle this well, because then I get to stay up an extra half an hour. You know, and it was big enough for me to be like, Hey, I don't want don't screw this up. Net, you know, you don't want to have a lot, you know. So anyway, with the kid, I would go back and I would say I want to build trust with you. Yeah, right. And then from there, I can't be attached to the dishes not being in the room, if I go in there. And my intention is to have dishes, not be in the room of them to bring their dishes down. I've already sacrificed connection. So I'm probably still triggered, if that's my intention, when I'm going up there might need more empathy, and to try and get empathy from your son, who you haven't don't have trust with, and they don't have the skill set is gonna be really hot. Yeah, so what you're gonna do is get empathy with someone else. But let's say you got a tonne of empathy. Right? And hey, I just I hate this. I don't want bugs and order and I want my needs to matter. And I do so much for my kid, why can't they see that? And everything, you know, 90% What I do is trying to contribute to their well being, and it still doesn't seem to work. Okay, I think I'm ready because I really want to connect. And my guess is they have a lot of pain, meaning they're needing it. So when I go in, the first thing I'm going to do is not talk about the dishes, which is what they're expecting. I'm going to go in and be ready to give them everything. I already got my empathy, swabbing really resourced and ready to give them in. And I might say, hey, you know, if I brought up the dishes right now, my guess is it would trigger you. So I want to do this differently. I want to find out what happens in here. You, when I show up in that way, when I start saying, Hey, I see your dishes, what happens? Do you just tighten up? Now your kids might not have a vocabulary, or they might not have trust, even share what comes up. So that's where instead of asking them how they're feeling, we like to guess and NVC would guess, and then you just put yourself in those shoes, hey, I'm guessing you tighten right up, because you're about to hear something that you're going to have to do. Or if you don't do it, there's going to be some consequence to our relationship, or I'm going to withdraw in irritation. Or you're going to do it when you don't want to do it. And that's, you know, submitting. I bet you that really stinks doesn't, right, so I'm just trying to connect with them and empathise with the position they're in. You see what I'm doing there, though, I'm not focused on the dishes literally,
Casey O'Roarty 35:43
yes, 100%, what I'm hearing you talk about, is getting into some deeper layers that exist, that are getting in the way of relationship and owning the patterns and owning the hurt and owning our way of being. And like you said, and I really want listeners to hear this, you are doing the best you can with the tools you have in the moment. And you get to listen in on this conversation that I'm having with Dr. Letterman, and learn some new things and try them on, right. And I think it's so powerful for our kids, for us to model what it looks like to own our behaviour, and owning our behaviour. And then, like you talking with your daughter about when you shifted into a different way of being and you had that moment with her around, you know, let me know, when I'm being bossy. We're the adults and we get to take the feedback. And we get to in that moment, do whatever we need to do internally to calm our nervous systems, and actually follow through with what we said we were gonna do, which was, you know, show up a different way.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 36:55
But for say in the moment, I'm so under resource, I can't show up in the way I want. Can you hold for 10 minutes? We'll circle back. Yes. And
Casey O'Roarty 37:03
what powerful modelling I mean, if the adults of the world were able to say, Hold on, I'm under resource, can we come back to this in 10 minutes, I mean, world issues would not be a thing, you know, if the adults could behave this way. And so we have this opportunity, that so powerful with the generation coming up to model something so powerful and so different.
Dr. Matthew Lederman 37:25
Yeah, it can be yes. So powerful. And I tell parents, you and I work with a lot of actually parents and teenagers that are trying to reconnect, we do a lot of repair support. And the parents say, Well, I want those dishes out of the room. I say, Well, why don't you bring them out of the room? Yes. This time, you know, like, well, you know, and it's because of the history and the buildup. If the mom brought him out of the room this time, that's not going to make or break, mom. But there's that whole story of remember I talked about, that's what's made. It's not ever learned, dishes that are making you angry. It's your thoughts when you see the dishes that make you angry? How many times I tell them, they don't care? What kind of slob? Am I raising? What am I doing wrong? Who's gonna marry this person? You know, like, our head goes all there. That's what makes us irritated?
Casey O'Roarty 38:15
Yeah, I want to hear more about the work that you do with parents and teens around repair. Because I feel like, you know, if there hasn't been a lot of work on shifting our way of being in the parent child relationship, and we get to the teen years, the teen years demands it, you know? So I'm guessing you probably have a lot of people who come in and there is a lot to repair. Yes. And I'm wondering, I'm curious, especially around the teenagers, that there's so much hurt, that they're really resistant? How do you break through with those kids? There's kids
Dr. Matthew Lederman 38:48
that have been so shut down that they're very quiet, right? They won't say anything? Or very Yeah. And that's just gone. That's just a need to protect, because a lot of parents will say, Oh, see, they don't care. Now, that's your evaluation. They're meeting a need by not saying something. What is that need? That's what I always ask them wouldn't need are they meeting by not saying it's not that they don't care, they care very much. And I've yet to meet a child that wouldn't want a deeper connection with their parents, if they trust that the parents would do it, are interested in it. And it wouldn't include suppressing the child's needs. Right? So there's no question that kids want that repair. And I've yet to hear a teenager, tell me that if we could get the parent to show up in this way that they wouldn't be. So I'm happy to run back and have a relationship with that parent. The only reason teenagers move away from their parents and put disconnect, and I'm not talking about like healthy independence I'm talking about they pull away and shut down is because they don't see a better way to meet their needs. And that's the challenge. So when I'm with parents in their heads, it doesn't matter what the issue is because all of the issues point back to very similar needs. So parents who say well, we got a whole list of issues. And I'd say there's probably only this many needs that need to be addressed. So any issue can get us to me because I don't care about the issue. I care about the underlying needs. And then for you to start having experiences, where you're collaborating, and they're experiencing connection energy with you, and then that's the healing.
Casey O'Roarty 40:18
Yeah. So we talk about one on one time together, like Kid lead, based on their interests, which for me, means watching a lot of documentaries about rappers, which is actually kind of totally fascinating. And, you know, when I think about what you're saying, and talk about it with parents, you know, it takes time remembering listeners, that it takes time, and consistency for our teens, especially the ones that feel hurt to trust the space to trust that this space is safe. It's yeah,
Dr. Matthew Lederman 40:58
so time, and you have to build that trust and sort of feed that that a little bit. But depending on the amount and the extent of the damage, and, you know, it happens quicker than parents think. And the other thing I want to say, though, is that, when caring for your kids needs, it doesn't go to permissive either. It doesn't mean you don't care about the parents needs. Remember, I said we got to care about both people's needs equally, and particularly around health and safety, we're not going to move forward unless my needs for health and safety are met to now with teenagers, they can ultimately do whatever they want, depending on the age. So even that is no longer relevant anymore. But they see a certain point that are adults, they can do what they want. You know, I tell parents, let's focus on the connection, and trust that that's going to lead us towards the magic. And if you also have to get good at mourning, and self empathy, particularly as the kids get older, and they're not going to do this, they're not going to have the same preferences and strategies that you have, they just won't they're different people. So hey, oh, boy, my mourning the fact that they're making that choice. And I have it stimulating pain in me. And what we are not very proficient at I believe is people in general, and parents is holding our own pain. What we do is when we get pain, we try to make that go away. By changing the outcomes in our surroundings. That includes trying to control our kids. I think that's a tragic strategy to try and sort of soothe our pain. Does that make sense? Is that clear? Yeah, yeah, that does. So sometimes our need in the moment is mourning. And I need to mourn that I can't think of a way to do this. Now I could threaten my kid, and I can make them wish they didn't do something through a really bad outcome. That's only going to cause pain, to try and get them to do what I want that I feel better. Yeah, what's the cost there? Versus, hey, the connection is most important. And they might do something that's risky, dangerous, and at the same time, if they want to do that, they're going to do it anyway. Now, can you do it in a way where hey, you can be there with them. Or you can choose to not be there with him. But explain in a connected way, why, hey, this is too hard for me to be there with you. And in the meantime, I'm going to tend to my pain, but you can't say that to the kid in a way that's gonna make them feel guilty, because that's a sneaky way of again, trying to control the kid. So do you see what I'm saying? Like, it's always being aware of what your intention is. So I don't know if that all makes sense. But that's a challenge for a lot of people is to sit with pain.
Casey O'Roarty 43:34
Yeah, well, it does make sense. And I know, I'm very aware that we are just barely scratching the surface on stuff that is so deep and so profound, and clearly work that you are passionate about. And so I'm so glad to have had this conversation and to just spark the listeners interest in learning more about nonviolent communication, myself included. So as we kind of wrap things up, is there any like, are there? Are there any simple baby steps that you can leave us with that people that are listening right now can, you know, today bring into practice with their teens,
Dr. Matthew Lederman 44:17
the first steps I would do is you take your watch, and I have a timer on my watch. And I ever go in for an hour, right? And every hour it goes off, and then I can hit it to go off in another hour with a button. And what I do at that hour is I check in and I check in what I'm feeling in my head, what I'm feeling in my heart what I'm feeling in my gut. And on our website, there is a feelings and needs list that can help you build a vocabulary. But every hour, I'm taking inventory of stopping and checking in and making sure I'm showing up how I want to show up. And when the kids are rowdy, you're going down and there's a lot of chaos. I'll change my timer to maybe every five minutes and then it's going out every five minutes, sometimes every minute where I'm like, I know I'm going to end it I know a minute, a lot of times, I'll tell everybody, hey, I'm going to go take a 10 minute break for self care, because I really want to get back and I don't want to snap or lose my temper. And I'm feeling pretty triggered. But that timer for me, builds that checking in, which allows you to connect to feelings and needs inside of you. And then also learn how to check in and be more intentional in the heat of the moment, because I'm doing it every hour, not just when it's hitting the fan.
Casey O'Roarty 45:26
I love that because, you know, it's that high reps that high repetition, I think if we wait till it's hitting the fan, the likelihood that will lean into Oh, let me check in on myself. We don't have the muscle memory for it. And it's high emotion. You know, you can't
Dr. Matthew Lederman 45:44
do that in the heat of the moment, you're going back to your default neural pathway. Right? Right. You got to create the muscle memory, the neural pathways of checking in and slowing down. And because that's the most important thing, did you MDC and that intention is to take your time and slow down.
Casey O'Roarty 46:01
Thank you. Thank you for that. Thank you for your work and your passion for it and everything that you're doing and bringing for families. Can you tell us a little bit more about resources on your website? And then I'll have you share where people can find it?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 46:14
Yes. So on our website, we have a connection, a section of resources on connection, there's feelings and needs, there's ones for little kids, you can show them, and it has pictures, there's ones, you know, other ones with adults. I like to teach with role plays. And there's a roleplay of me working with a mom, whose teenage son was actually in the audience and gave permission to do this. And I played the mom with MDC skills, and the mom played her son, about wanting them to get out using their device too much. So we did that roleplay. And what's really cool about that is when you play when she played the sun, she was able to experience and empathise with the sun because she played that role, but she was able to see how it would feel coming at it differently within NVC, so that's on there. So just supportive stuff. There's a masterclass coming up in September, that people can register for on there. And then they can work with us individually if they want.
Casey O'Roarty 47:09
Great. Yay. Well, my final question that I ask all of my guests at the end is What does joyful courage mean to you in the context of nonviolent communication,
Dr. Matthew Lederman 47:20
joyful courage, to me would be the courage to check in and do as much in your life with that joyful energy instead of out of that obligation energy to really connect to your choice and your intention, and to do as much as possible, because it's joyfully contributing to you and other people. And have the courage to do that when the world around you may have educated you to focus on what's right or what's expected. But you have the courage to really stay in Integrity with your needs and values.
Casey O'Roarty 47:52
Thank you. Where can people find you and follow your work?
Dr. Matthew Lederman 47:55
Yes. So our website is WWE heal dot health. We have a new book Wellness to wonderful. That's out. You can get that on Amazon, audible print and Kindle. And you
Casey O'Roarty 48:05
talk about nonviolent communication in that book. Yeah. So half of
Dr. Matthew Lederman 48:09
because it's, it's all about optimising health and resourcing the body so you can connect, and it talks about self connection connect to other people and NVC is a big foundation of them. Awesome.
Casey O'Roarty 48:20
Are you on social media? Can we find you on social media? Yeah, so wellness
Dr. Matthew Lederman 48:23
to wonderful with a number two, and you can follow us that's our handle on all the different platforms.
Casey O'Roarty 48:29
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for spending time with me this was super useful and interesting, and I know that I am excited to learn even more. So I'm gonna be checking out your website. Thank you. Thank
Dr. Matthew Lederman 48:40
you for having me and all the parents listening. The fact that you're showing up and listening to this means that you care and you have that intention to be the best parent you can. So best wishes best of luck. Congratulations on it
Casey O'Roarty 49:01
thank you so much for listening in today. Thank you to my spreadable partners as well as Chris Mann and the team at pod shaper for all the support with getting the show out there and making it sound good. Check out our offers for parents with kids of all ages and sign up for our newsletter to stay connected at bees profitable.com. Tune back in later this week for our Thursday show and I'll be back with another interview next Monday. Peace