The importance of moving away from seeing behavior as "good" or "bad"
May 16, 2022
[Kyle]: In today's episode we're going to talk about black and white thinking. How many times have you heard people say “yeah, I just see things in black and white.” We tell our kids to “go make good choices” or “be good today” and we're going to talk about how that can be problematic in raising kids that are thoughtful, reflective, take responsibility and give you some other specific ways to talk them in those moments, that will help expand their understanding of their behavior and others.
[Kyle]: Hello, and welcome to episode 31 of The Art of Raising Humans. I'm Kyle.
[Sara]: And I'm Sara.
[Kyle]: And first, before we get into our subject, summer's coming, right? I mean, that's pretty exciting. So, I know a lot of families get really, really pumped about summer. Sara and I don't really get pumped to a summer. We do like it, it's not that we don't like it, it's just really hot. So, in Oklahoma, I don't know where you're at listening to this. Oklahoma is so hot, but I’m sure for a lot of families, you're hearing this right as school is about to start winding down. It is for us too, but we do homeschool the kids, so we're able to take them all the time on different vacations throughout the year. We love the fall, right?
[Sara]: Right. Well, fall's the best.
[Kyle]: Fall is the best for us, doesn't mean it has to be the best for you, but-- And even that topic, Sara, about what is really the best season, is really helpful in kind of getting into our topic, right?
[Sara]: Yes, exactly, you quite said it.
[Kyle]: So, fall is awesome and I know some people prefer the summer. We think it's blazingly hot, we do like to swim and the kids love to swim, we do like to maybe have less school things we're thinking about, which is always fantastic, but we want to wish you guys a fantastic beginning to that summer break. I hope you have a lot of cool things planned and I also want to say thank you to a lot of feedback I’ve gotten recently, lately from different people, just some in person, some through comments on, you know, different type of ways in which people commented to us about how helpful these podcasts have been and I want you to know, I mean, Sara and I, you know, we pay to put this on. We do this in our own time, we pay to produce it and we try to put a really good product out there for you. We love your feedback, we love any kind of reviews, preferably five-star ones that are great. We'd love for you to get the word out, because we are not doing this just for fun. Even though it is fun, we're doing it to help families. So, the more families this can help, the better.
[Kyle]: So, any way you can share this or spread the word through Facebook, Instagram, any kind of other type of social media that you could do that, we really appreciate that. So, let's dive into our topic today on our 31st episode. So, I’m gonna throw out a big word, today we're gonna talk about dichotomous thinking. Can you break that down for me, Sara? What is that? What is dichotomous thinking and why does it matter to kids and parenting?
[Sara]: Dichotomous thinking is-- Probably the easiest way for me to think about it, is just black and white thinking. It's good/bad, this/that.
[Kyle]: Either/or, yeah.
[Sara]: Yeah. So, there's just two choices, it's going to be this or it's going to be that and they fall into that category and there's lots of places I think, that people know that's just not really the case in life. Some people call it the gray area, some people call it-- There's a spectrum, there's a whole range of things, but we often fall into this black and white thinking, this dichotomous thinking without even realizing it and as a parent, it looks like “my child is--” You know, what kind of actually reminds me of when we would say “oh, she never cleans up her room” or “she's always late”, that's dichotomous thinking too, right?
[Kyle]: Yeah, and we talk about this. That’s right, yeah.
[Sara]: So, it harkens back to those podcasts. But it's just this idea of “my child is good or bad”. “They always do this” or “they never do that”, that's that same kind of thinking and obviously, if you view your child in that very narrow “they're this” or “they're that”, you lose all the nuance, you lose all the other times and you-- Actually if you get into thinking that way so much, when it happens, you won't even see it.
[Sara]: Because you're so stuck on there always “this one is my good child”
[Kyle]: Exactly, yeah.
[Sara]: And you know, “this is the one that-- Oh man, she's just--”
[Kyle]: The golden kid, yeah.
[Sara]: Yeah, and even if you don't say that, you know, sometimes in your head you think “yeah, I can depend on-- She'll do it”. So, actually the few times or when she doesn't do it, you kind of just gloss over.
[Sara]: And the other child, the other sibling, I don't know, even in your own childhood if you think back to when you were a kid and the roles in your family, you know, “Oh, I was the bad one. I was the one that was always messing up”.
[Kyle]: The devil, yeah.
[Sara]: Yeah, and there were probably lots of times you weren't, but what does everyone think about and talk about? The times you were and if you had a sibling or maybe you were the really good one, then all the times that you weren't, we just-- We lose that, because we're just thinking--
[Kyle]: Or we blame somebody else for those mistakes you made. Because typically, you're always responsible, you're always--
[Kyle]: Yeah, “it wasn't your fault”.
[Sara]: “It can't be you”.
[Sara]: And that's sort of that dichotomous and we lose a lot and we lose a lot in our relationships when we fall into that black or white.
[Kyle]: Yeah. If you're listening to this right now, I’d love for you to take a moment and think about that, because even as adults, I have a lot of adults who come into counseling and that they're looking for parental help and they'll say “I’m just a black and white thinker” and I think that's an interesting thing to think about myself. Because if I buy into that, that's really what we know developmentally little children are. So, little children are naturally black and white thinkers, they see the world as good or bad. It's real simplistic because they don't have a lot of nuances or abstract to their thoughts. So, to think in a black and white way, is and I’m not saying it's [Unintelligible], it is a childish way to see the world, it is a very ignorant way to see the world.
[Sara]: Well, they needed that, I mean, early on they're trying to make sense of a whole lot of information, you know? You think about a baby who's never smelled these smells, seen these sites, there's so much they're taking in that their brain is organizing it and they sort of-- Things fall into these categories, but with maturity comes the ability to go “oh, it's not just this or that, there's a spectrum”
[Kyle]: And also, I don't have all the information. I can't possibly see everything that was going on in that moment. So, in that moment, I’m definitely ignorant to all the aspects that led to this thing, you know? I was thinking, Sara, one of the examples as I was kind of writing this up, that I know you and I it became more aware to us as we moved away from dichotomous thinking and we were purposely trying to see nuance and trying to understand, rather than judge. Because judging really comes into the black and white thinking typically, it's either good or bad and so, everything becomes very simple. Even though we know the thing is complex, you know? It doesn't mean everything has to be, you know, over complex, but life is complex, you know? And so, I remember when Ellie was first born, you and I went to a conference on ethics or something and we went in there and you had her, she was maybe, I don't know, four months? Five months?
[Sara]: I don’t remember, she was very little, yeah. I had her in a little carrier.
[Kyle]: Very little and you brought her in and a lot of the other counselors there were like “oh what a sweet baby, look how cute--" you kind of doted on her and then throughout it, she started to like make a little noise and you had-- Because you're a fantastic mother and drawn like a blanket and you brought some other things to take her outside in the hallway and you fed her out there and you also like, played with her and you could still hear the conference. But then at the end, you came back in because you knew was about to end. Well, those counselors who had doted upon her, if you recall they didn't know you had left the room, I mean, they assumed you were there the whole time. So, I remember how many of them came up and talked about what a good baby she was. “She's such a good baby because she was so quiet and like, she didn't make any noise” and I just observed that and that's an interesting thing to think about the baby. Like you don't even know the baby, but somehow the baby is good because the baby made no noise?
[Kyle]: So, in that person's mind, a silent baby is a good one, a talkative one's a bad one? Or a loud one's a bad one? But it just showed this like, dichotomous way of seeing the baby, that the baby was good because the baby did something that that counselor preferred the baby to do, you know? Instead of just like, the baby is just-- Like using other words to describe the baby, “the baby is sweet, the baby is kind, the baby's adorable, the baby was--”. So, you know, all those kinds of things and then even on top of that, the fact that the baby was making noise and you left the room to take-- And the counselor didn't know that, but yet still defined her by being quiet, even though she wasn't! And it just showed me this lack of understanding when we say those kinds of things.
[Sara]: Yeah, yeah. I think that is a simple example, but a good example of ways we can fall into that. “Oh, now you're good. Now you're bad” and we do that with ourselves. And what's interesting about it is, it's actually not good for our health, right? I think there's pieces of us who understand “oh, yeah, I don't want to fall into a judgmental thinking”. I don't want to fall into this as good or bad, because that's not actually scientifically, it's not actually good for your brain.
[Sara]: So, it's not going to lead to better health, it's not going to lead to more happiness in your life, to fall into that black and white thinking and then it doesn't serve the relationship-- Not that these people had a relationship with the baby, but to go up and view the baby as good now, then when is she going to be bad? And if you carry that as she gets older and older and older, then now she's good because she behaves this way and she's now a bad baby or a bad child because she behaves this way, and then she grows up thinking “okay, this is how I’m good and this is how I’m bad”.
[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, I’m learning how to get that label, yeah.
[Sara]: Yeah, and we become adults who now think “well, I was late to work, so now I’m a bad employee”.
[Sara]: But “oh, now I’m a good employee because I met this goal”.
[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah, “I’m a good employee because the boss looked at me and waved and smiled. I must be a good employee”, right? Or “the other day she seemed like she walked by me and ignored me, I must be a bad employee”, you know? And so, that's why I want to bring this up, Sara, because it isn't-- It's a [Unintelligible], it's not only problematic for the child and how we're raising the child to see the world, but every time we talk to the child that way, we reinforce this thinking in our own mind, you know? Like, I love that-- Well, Becky Bailey has that quote of “what I offered to you is a gift to me”. If I offered the kid this dichotomous view of the world without any nuance, without any color, it's all just black and white, then I actually trap myself as a parent with it. Either I’m a good dad or a bad dad. “The other day I yelled at my kids, so I’m a bad dad and now I need to work really hard to become a good dad. So, what am I going to do?” And I know parents if you're listening, there's a lot of parents do this. “I’m going to be super kind, I’m going to be super loving, I’m going to beat myself up for a little bit and then maybe I’ll take the kid out and buy them a gift or maybe I’ll take them for ice cream or maybe I’ll overlook that thing that I don't like that they did, because I don't want to make the mistake of being a bad dad again, right? I want to be a good one” or my kid freaks out at targets, what is everyone thinking? “I’m a bad parent, why would my kid do this?”, right? And so, that's actually what starts to freak us out in those moments and we can't be present to help our kid is, we're afraid of all the judgment that maybe I’ve slipped into that pattern. “How can I be a good parent and my kid freak out like this?”. So, then we might do something like get really mad at the kid and say “stop doing that!”, just to like get the kid to be quiet and then the kid does, but now I’ve been a bad parent. Because even though no one else saw me do it, I know I just yelled at the kid and made the kid a good kid, but I’m still a bad parent and you can see how this cycle goes over and over again and it wires our brain to really judge our kids and put them into these really rigid finite places of-- And then I end up-- That comes back and hurts me as well.
[Sara]: I think it can lead you see that kind of playing a part in people-pleasers. You know, they're so good, they were this good little kid who knew how to be good and they knew to do that by just doing what people wanted, so now they're the good kid who grows up and is this huge people pleaser and lacks self-confidence and-- Because they're looking for that good button to be put on them all the time and the same can happen on the opposite side, where if you're the bad kid, “oh, I’m bad, I do these things” and they can actually believe that more and more and more. Where then it sabotages any opportunities to do anything different, because I’m the bad kid. S0 And so, you see them just continue down that path.
[Kyle]: Well, Sara, you and I have both helped kids in counseling, especially very young. Kids in pre-k, kindergarten, where maybe they've had a really negative interaction with a teacher or maybe they're having a hard time at home and you'll see the kid start to take that identity on. Because think about it, if the kid is seeing the world, developmentally this is where they're at and this is why we're talking about this is. It's not that the kid shouldn't be there, the kid is naturally going to be there, but it's our job as a parent not to reinforce that, but to invite them in to seeing it in other ways and the reason why that's important is, a kid at like four or five who's going to school having interactions with teachers that are negative or interactions with you at home that are negative, the kid doesn't have any nuance to that understanding. So, if I am displeased with my kid, what are they? They're a bad kid, right? If I raise my voice at that kid, they must be a bad one because you don't do that to a good one, you know? And so, the kid starts to get this idea of “when anybody's upset with me, it's because I’ve been bad. When anybody's happy with me, it's because I’ve been good” and that's going to lead to a lot of anxiety and possible depression when that kid grows up, because that kid's trying to play a game and trying to figure out how to get on the good side of all the human beings or they say “forget it! I can't!”
[Kyle]: I’m just the bad kid, because every adult seems to be upset with me, so that must be who I am. I mean, I actually had, Sara, I had a kid who had done great when he was three and then he came to me in counseling when he was four and what was interesting about is, when he was three, there was a kid in his class that was “the bad kid” and now that the kid he left that school and went to a different school and in pre-k, he was doing similar things that that kid had done and then talking to that kid, it came out through some play therapy and stuff that the kid basically took that identity on. That once the teacher got upset at him about a few things, he thought “oh, that's my role in this class, I’m the bad kid”. So, he started doing disruptive things, like the kid he saw when he was three, when he was the good kid, you know? And he just assumed “that's what I do, you know? Every kid every class has to have one, it must be me”.
[Sara]: Yeah, yeah. I’ve seen the same thing where this kid was on one track and then somewhere, the belief came in they were something else and we as adults need to own that, we play a large role in that.
[Sara]: And we can help children. Like you said, invite them into the abstract thinking even though they're young. You know, we need to talk about this with them, we need to help them understand that it's not an either/or, good or bad, right/wrong and there is this spectrum and we are all both, we can mess up. I can go to work and I can mess up one time and I can do really great work another time. So, I’m neither the perfect great worker, nor the really terrible bad worker and I also think that when we sit in that space, we were talking about this before, but we're sitting the space where I think it takes you out of gratitude and it’s much harder to sit in gratitude, to help our brains be healthier brains, help happier people. Because if we're just “it's either good or bad”, there's no space for the gratitude, it's got to be only one way in order to have gratitude, which is what we want our children to learn that that's not true, you can go through something really terrible and there's still wonderful things in there.
[Sara]: And you want to be able to have gratitude in life and I think the gratitude, the practice of gratitude, being grateful, finding that nuance in situations and in who you are as a person, lead you away from that dichotomous thinking as well.
[Kyle]: Well, and like you were just saying, I think also as you were talking, I’m thinking when I am in that rigid thinking as a parent, not only my good or bad parent, but like in our culture is like, I’m either pretty or ugly, handsome or ugly, right? Funny or not, right?
[Kyle]: I’m smart or stupid. It becomes like every category, becomes so limiting and there's not this-- Like, no, there's a spectrum to all this stuff, you know? and it was such a helpful thing, like you're saying with the gratitude, when I was first trying to do this and switch as a dad and you know, I can get upset, so I can raise my voice and I would get so mad at myself for messing up, because the goal was to be the-- I was trying to do the right thing, not the wrong thing, you know? And so, every time I yelled that was the wrong thing and that was like, it's like you're 100% messed up or 100% doing it right, you know? And it was so trapping and I found it actually made it more likely I was going to mess up next time. Because what you focus on, I think you get more of and when I focus on the bad I’m doing, I continue to grow that, you know? And I try to not do that. Even though the reality is I’m going to mess up, I’m going to make mistakes and that's actually good, I can be grateful for the mistakes I’ve made, because the kids see how I handle those mistakes and that's healthy, you know?
[Kyle]: So, I think ways-- Real quick, I want to give specific ways we do this or we hear parents doing this, ways that you and I have tried to move away from it, is you hear a lot of real popular movies to say “hey, I’m leaving. Be good” and like that being a way to tell the kid, it's very confusing to kids to say things like that “be good”. I know sometimes even my own dad will say that and I’ll just say to my dad “I think you're trying to say you want them to choose good, is what you’re saying? or like, you know, do good things? Is that what you're saying? I don't understand what you--” How can my kids do that? How can they just go “today I will be good”? You know? It's really-- Just for any parent who's saying that, it's really confusing to the kid because it's not specific enough, what are you actually wanting them to do. Because they don't have the power within them to make themselves good or make themselves bad.
[Sara]: Well, and it just leads them to go “okay, everything I’m doing today, I’m going to judge rather I’m good or bad”.
[Sara]: “Did I make it or not?”. You know and with that, good means worthy, lovable, all those things, right?
[Kyle]: Pleasing to the people you're with, yeah, yeah. Everybody be happy with you.
[Sara]: So, then if I don't do that, then I’m not lovable, I’m not a good friend, or I’m not-- You know.
[Kyle]: Exactly, yeah, and so, the fear is-- I mean, just think how-- I don't know if you've ever felt this, any listeners doing this, but Sara, I mean, I can think about a kid going into a setting where they're told to be good and typically, that's being said too because there's been some issues and so, now the kid is like hyper aware of any displeasure that anybody has, you know? “Is that kid gonna tell on me. Oh, cause maybe I didn't say things the right way” or “that teacher looked upset at me. Oh my gosh, is that gonna get back to my parents? Because I didn't do--” and they're in this anxiety, which we know about the brain--
[Sara]: “Am I being good right now!?”
[Kyle]: I know, that's right, in the whole time--
[Sara]: “I think maybe”
[Kyle]: And like, “when I left the teacher seemed to give me a high five, maybe she did, that was a good day”, you know? And even like that, “have a good day”, “how do I have one of those? I don't know”. Like, let's try to be more specific about it, we have-- In the English language we have a lot of words to describe how we like that day to go. Saying “have a good day” is just very limiting to understanding what that day could be. Now, another way that is really popular with a lot of parenting approach is “make good choices”, okay? Once again, I just want to point out that with the kids I deal with and you have to, Sara, in counseling, that is a very confusing thing, “make good choices”. Because who decides? Who judges what of those choices are good? You know, some of the parent might say it as they drop them off of school and the parent actually-- The kid does a choice the parent might have approved it, but the teacher didn't approve of that, right? Or maybe the teacher approved it, but a kid in the class didn't approve of it, right? It becomes now “the good choice” is being determined by every person involved in that situation.
[Kyle]: And in many cases, there might be multiple opinions about what the best choice was in that moment. So, I find that not helpful whenever we tell kids to make good choices and not bad choices.
[Sara]: Yeah, and honestly, the thing I see over and over is how stressful it is for a child. When they're little, you know, they really are seeking your love and they're really-- They want that connection with you and so, it creates this very tenuous situation in your relationship, you know? “Was I good enough? Did I make it today or not?” and then-- But as teenagers, when you say “it's really hard, who's judging the good choice?”, their peer group is meant to be a-- When you're a teen your peer group is important to you and if you raise your kid to jump through the whatever hoop of good choices is in front of you, that gets really hard as for a teen, you know? What this peer group versus that peer group, and this friend versus that friend and they they're almost not even in the picture, it's really just about my teacher, but then my coach.
[Sara]: They're trying to weigh all of this and it adds a lot of stress to an already very stressful time period.
[Kyle]: Add social media to that too, Sara. Like, what does that mean? Like, your parents may not think that choice was good, social media might say it is.
[Kyle]: Yeah, and now the kid’s caught in this dilemma of “who do I try to please here?”
[Kyle]: And I think a lot of teenagers these days are learning “I’d rather please the social media, because they’re--” I might-- Maybe I get mom and dad upset about that choice and think it was a “bad choice”, but maybe I got a thousand likes or a thousand people approving of it saying “what a great choice that was”, right? Okay. So, the way-- I feel like and Sara, I want you to add to this, I felt like the way we shifted from this was when Becky Bailey through conscious discipline gave us the language of looking through choices in the way of helpful or hurtful, you know? And I know it sounds like, once again that sounds like a dichotomous thing, but it's really not because it's in relationship to how those choices impacted others, but also impacted myself. So, it adds-- Just even the helpful/hurtful is a nuanced way of looking at it, you know? Because there could be ways it could be both, you know?
[Kyle]: The choice you made, “I made it because I thought it'd be helpful in this way. Oh, but it was hurtful in this way” and it adds like this open-handed component to it, whereas good and bad doesn't. Typically good and bad has such energy around it, in a different way that helpful/hurtful does. So, you know, you and I moved away from-- You know, we wouldn't say to our kids “go make good choices”, you know? We just say “hey, what's the more helpful choice we could have made?”, you know? Or “hey, do you think that choice was helpful or hurtful? Which kind of area do you think it falls under?” and I found when the kids did that, they became more thoughtful and they started going “okay, yeah. Now, how does this choice please people? But how did this choice actually interact with other people? How did it impact me? How did it impact others?” and we were able to have a deeper discussion about the helpful elements, but also the hurtful elements that that came from that choice.
[Sara]: Yeah, and I think that too, it just takes the judgment out of it, right? Because you're just looking at, like you said, it could be helpful and hurtful and just, how did that work out for you?
[Sara]: You made this choice; how did that work out? Did you like that outcome? And so, I think it just--
[Kyle]: It's more reflective, yeah.
[Sara]: Moves away, right? It just moves away from this either/or, because we can talk about lots of different ways you liked it and you didn't like it and it helped and it hurt.
[Kyle]: And it could be both/and, it doesn't have to be either/or and I’m thinking even like with the good/bad, typically it's about the other person's perspective. Which not to say that's not important, it's a part of it, but it's like it's their judgment of it. So, I may have done something and they get to determine it's good or bad and this question it's like “hey, do you feel like that was helpful or hurtful?” And then, I think it makes the kids more thoughtful into really go try to be empathetic to the other kids that it's impacted or how that situation's touched other people, but also how I perceived it, you know? Maybe I think in a lot of cases, I remember as a kid I did things I thought were going to be helpful and it turned out not to be helpful, you know?
[Sara]: Yes, that’s what I was just-- I remember once walking to class and I showed my friends my brother's classroom and when I got to class, I thought it was great what I did. I was being friendly and I was showing in-- But we got-- I got in trouble specifically because I led them down that horrible road and I remember my teacher really coming down on me and I felt so bad and it really bothered me for a very long time, because I was a good kid and I was bad and I was confused because I thought what I did was really great and then I got really in trouble for it.
[Sara]: And you know, that's just an example. I think we all have lots of stories like that.
[Kyle]: Exactly. No, as you're saying, I have a ton pop in my head, yeah. Yeah, and that's the freedom we're talking about. Inevitably anybody listening, we're talking about getting out of dichotomy to help you be more free, because even as you're saying that, think about “if I go to work and I--”. Let's say I’m on a diet, I’m trying to eat better and then I eat a candy bar and that's not in the diet, is that helpful to leading to my goals?
[Sara]: Well, they've shown that actually if you do that, if you think “Ugh”, you’re actually more likely to--
[Kyle]: Yeah, “that was so bad, I’m such an idiot”. Yeah.
[Sara]: Yeah, you're actually more likely to gain more weight or continue to eat bad and putting quotes on that, you know? Than actually then if you just see it as a spectrum, and as a process and a journey you're on.
[Kyle]: Yeah, and so instead if I could just say “well, that's not helpful to reaching my goals, you know? Next time when I’m hungry, I want to have a better plan”, right? You'll just feel more freedom and how you approach yourself and your kids. So, another last component there is like, we just read a book recently to one of our kids just trying to educate them about pornography and all that stuff, it's called “Good pictures Bad pictures” and even like that title, I’m kind of turned off by, because I don't like the dichotomous thinking. But I know what they're trying to do, right? But even in that, as I read it to our kids, I purposely change those words to “healthy and unhealthy”, right? So, healthy/unhealthy, appropriate/inappropriate, right? So, I would encourage you when you're seeing just the good and bad, get away from those words in particular like, the right and wrong, because they inherently have this judgment on them in our culture, okay?
[Kyle]: So, I just think it's just so much more helpful to say things like helpful/hurtful, inappropriate/appropriate, healthy/unhealthy. It really expands the kids ability to not be defensive and just be thoughtful and reflective and say “did I like that choice?” Because how could you like a bad one, right? But you could go “well, I did like that choice. I know it was hurtful to that person, but actually the other person they thought it was helpful”, you know? So, then I can go “well, I don't know if I still want to do that choice, but it doesn't have to go in just one category and we're stuck there”, right? And now you're just not a bad kid, you're just a kid who did a hurtful thing or you're a kid who did something that was unhealthy, you ate something unhealthy or did something unhealthy, right? So, it just really helps for much more growth and gratitude to take place. So, I would encourage you to think about it. Anything you want to add at the end?
[Sara]: No, I know I have a lot more thoughts.
[Kyle]: Sure. Go ahead.
[Sara]: No, I mean, no, I think that really does sum it up. I think too we've kind of touched on this, but just the ownership that there really almost isn't a good or bad, there isn't always a black or white, you know? An easy one for me is telling kids to always obey the grown-ups, whoever it is.
[Sara]: But what if that--? We know grown-ups who have asked kids to do hurtful things, right? Unsafe things.
[Kyle]: Of course, yeah.
[Sara]: And so, we don't teach our kids just this black or white, “you always respect and obey the adults”. No, you can-- You know, you actually want to teach your child to think about what they're asking you to do and then, if that is a safe helpful-- Then go ahead and do that thing, but if they were asking you to do something that-- Then actually you'd want them to say no.
[Kyle]: Yeah, yeah. You want the kid to reflect on and go “is this good? Is this a helpful thing to do? Or is this like-- I need to take a moment think of what they're asking me to do”, right? You don't want them just blindly say “that's good to do what that adult is telling me to do”.
[Sara]: So, we practice this, I know it's something they have to grow into. We need to move away from the black or white, we want to help them with the abstract. Because by the time they're teenagers, there's going to be a lot of those kinds of things.
[Kyle]: Exactly, a lot of things. Yeah.
[Sara]: And so, you want that practice and you want that kind of thinking that “oh, it's not always just going to be black or white, right or wrong. I need to look at this and think about my decision in what direction I’m going”.
[Kyle]: Well, and be specific. If you're wanting the kid to go to school and make more helpful decisions or helpful choices, what are those specific choices you'd like them to make? Like say “hey, today let's work on you listening better, okay? How could you do that? What would be some helpful things for you to listen better?” and then you and the kid game plan that and you just practiced that skill that day, right? But just saying “hey, make better choices today. Make good choices today”. There's so many choices they're making, kids are making hundreds and hundreds of choices. If they make 5 ones that aren't good and 95 that are, I mean, like what-- The 5 will outweigh the 95, you know?
[Kyle]: So, instead we want to be more specific on this. So, I hope that really helps expand not only your thinking about your kids behavior and how you're talking them, but also helps you be freed from dichotomous thinking. You are not a good or bad parent, you are a parent in process, you are doing the best you can, you can grow and change. These moments when you make mistakes do not define you, you are more than those things, okay? So, I hope it frees you to even how you think about yourself. So, please, yeah, go on and rate us and definitely give us your comments. We'd love to know how this helps and we hope you have a fantastic time planning your summer break. Goodbye.