I’m Alley— a Toronto mom, therapist and business owner (Magnificent Minds Inc.) with roots in mental health, child development, applied behaviour analysis, and supporting parents as they strive for optimized wellness. I've got this behavioural and mental health hybrid life, and career, where science drives and wellness steers. I'm a hippy at heart and I totally own the chaos that is life with THREE *spirited* littles, a hectic-but amazing- job, and a "sign-me-up" attitude that sometimes gets me in over my head. The rest we'll have to uncover together! Subscribe so you never miss an update!
This might be my most controversial episode yet. We're digging into ableism in school; how to spot it, and how to stop it. I'll be the first to admit that this might ruffle a few feathers, but sometimes in order to do better we have to recognize our own missteps. I'll be honest and admit I've gone along with status quo before and thinking about that makes me uncomfortable. I'm checking my privilege, speaking candidly and from a place of compassion and committing to doing better. At the end of the day, what good is a platform if it's not used to talk about the hard stuff? Let's go there.
Let’s talk about what to expect as we move through phase 2 and phase 3 of reopening as we expand our bubbles and re-enter society adjusting to our new norms in post Covid times. What might our kids experience and how can we support them? Behaviour? Social skills? Communication? I’m discussing it all.
2 things we all have in common: 1. We’re in a global pandemic 2. We’re anxious, our kids are anxious—we have no chill! I’m diving into what anxiety is like in quarantine, some surprising facts you didn’t know about how your mind works and some proactive ways I’ve found to restore my chill.
Cabin fever has set in, right? Kids are home, no end in sight—working from home—boss doesn’t “get it”, or you’ve been laid off—and you’re juggling more than ever wearing too many hats for too low a pay bracket. How do we target self care when we simultaneously have nothing but time and no time to even pee alone? If you’re like me, you’re simultaneously bored of the ground-hog day like vibe and low key loving the slower pace. On top of that, my patience have all but run out—you? So, I’ve turned to my self care habits and turns out they kind of suck. So, I did a deep dive. Happiness, gratitude and manifestation through a scientific lens will completely blow your mind and raise your level of self care. A parent engaging in self care is an all around more balance parent (and human)—so let’s go there!
So... bribery and reinforcement are basically the same thing right? WRONG! Like, really, really wrong. But don't worry...I got you. By the end of this episode you'll be schooling your friends in the ins and outs of effective reinforcement strategies, and owning the parenting game (ok, ok, you'll be a good 5 steps ahead of where you were before you listened to this episode, that I can guarantee).
We'll keep it light, and get just deep enough to make sure you're 5 steps ahead of your spirited little one, and I mean--learning how to shape the right behaviour in your partner (or ahem mother in law) wouldn't be the worst thing ever, would it? The thing about parenting is that it's ALL about setting up the right contingencies; the contingencies that reinforce the stuff you want to see more of (think: sharing, cleaning up, being independent, being a respectful human...you get the idea). Equally important is not setting up contingencies that reinforce the stuff you'd rather disappear (think: nose picking, back-talk, total and outright refusal to eat broccoli, never cleaning up your toys....you get the idea). But how? Again, I got you!
If you're ready to level up your parenting game, this is your starting point. Full disclosure--this episode is really informal and I find myself speaking to you like I'd speak to my best friend (#nonewfriends). I use some language that might be triggering to you if you think the word "crazy" is offensive. I don't love the word myself, but I use it in this episode because I'm being nonchalant, conversational and frankly I took my filter off (whoops). So, if that's going to offend you simply skip on to the next where I promise to try and be more politically correct. And if not--even better, press play!
Grief though. Maybe it's the hormones (baby #3 on board) but I won't lie, this one got me right in the feels. The love a parent feels for their kiddo(s) is unlike anything else; it's truly unparalleled. If you know, you know.
I'll save you the banter, the hashtags and the cultural references on this one and dive right into this: The most important take away from this episode is that the grief, or the grief-like feelings that you are experiencing in parenting your amazing, but complex, kiddos--is more common than you'd think. Know too, that resilience, empowerment and trust in the process comes from increased self-awareness and from being comfortable enough to acknowledge where you are right now, in this moment, in your process of accepting your reality.
The road is long, but the journey is worth it; and obviously, you don't have to walk it alone.
Kids don't tantrum because they want to be a jerks; they tantrum because they are trying to figure out how to best communicate their needs and wants. As parents, we can either extinguish or fuel the tantrum fire. Did you know that tantrums and meltdowns serve very different purposes? When it comes to our kids, our husbands, or our bosses, there's one thing to remember: all behaviour communicates. As parents, part of our job is to figure out "why do you DO that?" When it comes to big behaviours that cause us to stay awake too late into the night and rehash every little parenting move you made, every behaviour your kid had, every perceived #momfail we're dealing with overwhelming doubt about how we navigated our biggest obstacles. When we understand why our kids behave the way they do, we can actually regain our control, or at the very least, confidently navigate those big and often challenging parenting situations. You can't win 'em all, but you can make a meaningful impact on shaping the right behaviour; the behaviour that yields confident, resilient and empowered kids.
Meal times are the WORST! Agree?
It's one thing to be lactose-intolerant, it's completely another to be new-food-intollerant. If your kid is picky, you've had your share of food battles; you've probably also had your share of peas thrown at your face, kale on the floor, and maybe even--pizza on the window? I remember the first time I took my kid to a restaurant; I looked at the "kid-menu" and thought--damn it, she won't eat ANY of this. So she ate bread. Just bread. Not ideal. After that, I got really used to packing a lunch bag wherever we went--but honestly, that was exhausting and not practical! So I turned to my clinical experience in food exposure, and went to work on my own kids.
I'm sharing my struggles, my strategies and my tips for navigating BOTH food refusal and general meal time chaos.
Parenting is hard! Like really, really hard. If you don't prioritize your wellness as a parent, you'll spiral into burn out, and the burden of day-to-day life will only increase as your burn-out gets more intense. Optimizing wellness, for you as a parent, is one of the most vital things you can do FOR YOUR KIDS. Let's talk about some signs of parent burn out, some strategies for overcoming the rough days, and some ways to develop your self-awareness. Let's talk about how good you are at talking your kids off a ledge, and how bad you are (sometimes) at talking yourself off the same ledge. We've all been there; let's not act like we're picture perfect parents with our shit together. The struggle is real; but we're ALL from the hood (parentHOOD). Parenting is messy and like a Picasso painting, that can be beautiful too. Let's get real about our struggles so we can suck every last drop out of these chaotic, unpredictable, and absolutely all-encompassing and awe-inspiring childhood years. "They" say, the days are long, but the years are short--let's try to keep our eye on the prize, right? The first step is putting yourself first, for 35 short minutes, and it starts now!
What are your thoughts on birth order: fact or fiction?
Early on in my research, and career, I found myself wondering how, or if, birth order was a real "thing" or a hypothetical construct. I found myself wondering if we are "who we are" as individuals, because it's our innate nature (destined to be this way), or because we're nurtured into taking on character traits (a more "product of my environment" kind of thing). Spoiler: I am totally into the idea that we can create our own destiny which means, by extension, I am all about nurture over nature. Fast forward a few years and I'm a parent, and a therapist, who spends a lot of time talking to parents about their family dynamics; here I am finding a whole new appreciate and renewed interest in how (and if) birth order effects us in our pursuit of purposeful parenting.
Does birth order (ours and our kids') impact our parenting style or is this just a fairy tale?
In this episode we discuss the importance of recognizing the meeting point of mental health services and ABA services in an autism population. We review the political history in Ontario leading up to the funding model pre Feb. 6 2019 and set the tone of Part 2 of this episode, scheduled to launch in the next week, where we review the changes implemented by the PC government after Feb. 6 2019, and discuss the long term impact of these service reductions and cuts.
Have you ever seen a parent, out in the big wide world, who handles an epic kid meltdown with effortless grace and a gentle, but grounded approach? Well, that can totally be you! Armed with a few key strategies and an understanding of your own core values (and a dash of self-care to help keep you calm and collected in the face of external chaos) you will not only be ready to handle big emotions, but also understand how to get ahead of them by having a road map for navigating your way with confidence, and consistency. You'll understand your role in raising kids with emotional intelligence, effective coping skills and an understanding of the-order-of-things. Wondering where to begin? Press play!
If you've got a spirited kiddo, a kiddo on the Autism spectrum, a kiddo with intellectual, developmental or behavioural needs and toilet training is on your radar, you've stumbled upon the right episode! If you've got a kiddo that isn't potty-trained, and you're SO DONE with diapers (like really, byeeee), you'll want to tune in! If you've tried other methods, and struggled; if you've been overwhelmed by the idea of taking the plunge (see what I did there?), then you'll want to grab a pen, maybe a mop, and pull up a chair. I'll walk you through transitioning from "toilet trained at school" to "toilet trained at home" without missing a beat. I've got 10+ years of experience supporting kiddos (and their parents) in their potty-training process in therapeutic, home and school based settings. I've seen my fair share of shit storms (literally and figuratively--no really I LOVE my job) and I've got some go to strategies to help optimize the outcome, maintain your sanity, and set your kiddo up for success.