Episode 3 –
Making Changes To Your Parenting
with Dr. Shannon Irvinee
“The first step of change really is recognizing that whether you believe it or not, you have a story that’s governing how you parent”
In this episode, Sharon talks to Dr. Shannon Irvine about the psychology of change and how we, as parents, can make changes in ourselves. Shannon explains how we each have a story of our own childhood that is governing how we parent and discovering that story is the first step to change. Thanks for listening! Shannon is a fellow mom and doctor of neuropsychology and can be found at DrShannonIrvine.com and across all social media platforms! If you enjoyed this episode, share it with a friend!
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Sharon: You’re listening to episode three of the Raiseology podcast – Making Changes in Your Parenting. I am here today with Dr Shannon Irvine. Thanks so much for being here.
Shannon: Sure. I’m glad to be here. It’s an honor.
Sharon: Dr. Shannon Irvine is a doctor of Neuropsychology who uses her extensive knowledge of the mind to educate and empower other entrepreneurs to change their mindsets and the stories in their subconscious so that they can scale their business and their lives. She’s passionate about her work with children in Africa or orphaned by the AIDS virus, a business and personal development Ninja, and is obsessed with helping other entrepreneurs to create the epic life and business that they love. Today we’re going to be speaking about how to create change in your life and what the psychology of creating that change is.
Shannon: Yeah, big, big topic. I love it.
Sharon: So the reason I have you here talking about this today is because what I’m hearing from several parents and what seems to be a pretty common theme is that often parents know that they are having difficulty with their parenting and they know what might need to change but they are not in a place yet where they’re ready to make that change. So can we talk a little bit about what the different stages of change might be and how to move yourself from one stage to another?
Shannon: Well, absolutely. First of all, thank you for having me on the podcast. I am a parent. I have two kids, seven and 10. And so, I live this daily and I’ve had to make tons of changes myself. The blessing of children is that they are all different and you cannot come up with a cookie cutter like this is how I parent and it applies to all children and that’s where I see a lot of frustration will come up where maybe your first born is, you know, a compliant child. And it has a high drive for approval from you, so they do the things that you want them to do and all is well in the world, right till maybe the second one comes, who is a strong willed child or maybe it’s flipped, but we get in this place of feeling like, oh, I had it and now I don’t have it.
Like in reality, every human being on the planet and you know this true, you look around, no one’s the same. So I don’t, I’m not sure why we enter into parenting thinking I can parent the same for all my children. That is a story that we’ve put into our subconscious that really wreaks havoc in our lives. And so, to get back to your change question and I love this question because not only is it something that I know from my background from neuropsychology, but I also lived this out where I have two very strong willed children, future leaders and entrepreneurs and gray hair makers for me. And I love them to pieces and they are who they are, couldn’t be any different from each other. And so, you know, just about the time you figured out the first one, the second one comes and then it’s like you’re starting all over again.
The change it really needs to start with the beliefs that you have about parenting to begin with and we get those beliefs for better or for worse from our own experience as being a child. So we go through our childhoods with our parents, with their challenges and their issues and their things and them doing the best that they can, but yet maybe not always perfect, right? Because none of us are and we create stories about what it is to be a perfect parent one way or the other. And it’s always in a way to protect us as a child. So our story might be it’s typically in one or two camps when it comes to parenting, it’s typically either my parents were amazing and that’s the model for parenting and nothing else can be different than that. And that’s perfection. And that’s what I want.
And then that story just gets in your subconscious and your subconscious without going deep down that path, it will rule because it is what you believe and have told yourself over and over again. If you don’t question that, then it’s what you believe, so those beliefs create your thoughts and your thoughts create your actions, and so it’s just what you’re seeing on the outside with your children in your home is a reflection, a direct reflection of the belief and the story that you have operating in your subconscious. Now, as a parent, we have to decide if we’re going to take our thoughts off autopilot or not, and that’s the first step of change really is recognizing that whether you believe it or not, you have a story that’s governing how you parent and getting extremely curious about what that story is because it is driving how you parent whether you realize it or not. The story I hear more often is not the first one that I mentioned. The story usually is, oh my gosh, all these things happened in my childhood hood and I will never fill in the blank. Right? And so we have all those, I will nevers hardwired into our subconscious and then we find ourselves doing the things that we will never. And so anytime there’s a conflict from your subconscious to what you’re doing in your conscious world, there’s turmoil, there’s this feeling of disease, there’s this feeling of this isn’t right. And then, you know, add to the mix that you have children now that are, they’re not complying with your rules arod parenting. Like if they would just comply with your methodology, right? It would be okay and so we quickly realize for this parenting thing to make sense, we’ve got a parent the individual child, and in order to do that, we need to take our parenting thinking off of autopilot, recognize that all of our actions, parenting, non-parenting, business, all of our actions are governed by stories that have kept us safe maybe as a child but don’t service as adults. And the great news about that is just in recognizing that piece and getting super curious of why you parent the way you parent and continuing to ask yourself, well, why am I doing it that way? What am I trying to get? What am I trying to fulfill in myself? Because really stories are created to protect ourselves. Right? So in getting super, super curious, there is really that first step to changing and really defining like the parent that you want to be and then taking the steps honestly it is one of those areas that 90 percent of people never do. They just don’t question the story and then wonder why they’re getting the results that they’re getting with their parenting.
Sharon: That’s such an interesting perspective and it’s so interesting because I know a lot of people who are even siblings who were parented similarly and have one might have that first story where you know, they think their parents did a great job and they want to do everything the same way and another might have the opposite story and they were parented very similarly by the same people. Although I do always say that no two people get the same set of parents. That’s right.
Shannon: And I’ll tell you a great story about that personal story. Um, I had my kids later in life and I wanted kids really, really badly, but my mom, excuse me, my mom had a background of anxiety. So of course my story was that’s never going to happen to me. Right. I knew all the things and of course I’ve done all the work on it and all that kind of stuff. I thought I had it dialed in like no, none of that was, was present. And then I had my first boy and then I tried to control everything in his environment and we know that controlling anxiety are like best friends, right? Either you have the anxiety or you are overcontrolling so that you don’t have the anxiety. So all of a sudden, I mean, I was, you would just crack up knowing me now that, that I did that. But I mean everything was on a schedule. Every little thing. I was like hyper vigilant about, and I know this is a common story for most people, like their first child, they’re just so much more vigilant, but then my second child came and she didn’t behave anything like my first child, but by then I’d done enough of the work to know that I can relax a little bit and, and get into it a little bit more and of course. So of course her demeanor is more relaxed as a human being and so now I’m trying to like make up for all that or controlling time that I had with my son in the beginning to try to help him relax in his own personality. You know?
Sharon: Yes, I do. And I actually, it’s funny, I had a call with a client a few weeks ago and she has an infant and I told her, I think that when you are really anxious about something, you affect your child’s behavior, and she said, do you really believe that? Yes, I really believe that. And it actually is true. And she even noticed that when she started to relax about certain things after we talked through them, that she really did feel calmer and so did the baby and the baby’s behavior completely changed just from her feeling calmer about certain things. And we’ve been able to see on PET imaging scans now, so much research has been done in the area that you’re speaking about. And there is this direct connection. We absorb the energy of the people around us. And that’s true no matter what, but especially true for children because that’s their main source of knowing the world. And we’ve seen PET imaging scans where they’ve gone from an anxious state and into like going through a relaxation where the mom relaxed and then the baby’s brain waves relaxed to the exact same pattern as their mom’s.
Shannon: It’s just so, so cool. You know, the cool thing about that is that’s just another parenting tool to have, like recognizing that you can say nothing. You can, you can not discipline, you can do nothing except for completely manage your state. And having a process for that and making sure that you’re in the right state when you go into discipline, that alone can create a huge shift and a huge change in your parenting.
Sharon: Yeah, that’s true. So what are, say you are now in this, you’re a parent and that stage where you’re starting to channel in on what is the reason that I parent the way that I parent and clearly it’s not working for me. So what, how do you get yourself to that point where you’re ready to make that change, right? So sometimes these changes that we want to make as parents require a lot of energy and a lot of effort and often you, the very results you’re trying to get to, you know, in the process of change are not getting them right. And so for example, if you have a child that doesn’t sleep well and you want to sleep training your child, the process of sleep training might cause you to have poor sleep for a few days. Right? And so I find that that is a big barrier for parents to want to make that change. And so what are ways that we can encourage parents to really go for what they want, even though the process might be a little grueling.
Shannon: There are two ways that I feel are super important in that and one of the first one is something you do in every area of your life, except for parenting, which is interesting if you think about that. And that’s creating a super, super clear vision of the outcome, what you’re wanting, right? A lot of times we don’t. Most times as parents, we don’t like we want them to sleep through the night, but we’re not going through that. Like you wouldn’t take your business, for example, and just say I want to make money and then not take it beyond that. Like, okay great, so does everybody in the world, but you’re never going to get there because it’s too broad. Well, it’s the same thing with your parenting. Of course you want them to sleep through the night, but why do you want them know going through the work that you would go through in every other area of your life in terms of goals and really getting crystal clear on why? Because you need to have a compelling enough reason when you’re only getting two hours of sleep that night because you’re putting them back down for the 50000th time that your mind is not on the problem. Meaning they’re not sleeping. Your mind is on that vision and where you’re headed and nowhere else really hyperfocused on. We want this to happen. I know this is, I know there’s going to take some work in between, but my mind is on that specific vision that I want to see for my child, for their health, for their wellbeing. You know, you develop it out yourself based on your own parenting important values. But it has to be strong because if it’s not strong, let’s put it in terms of things we all know, like, I want to lose five pounds. I liked my Nachos more so I’m not going to lose the weight, but if you get hyper vigilant, so I showed you my obsession with chips and salsa, but, um, but you know, if you really get serious about it and you’re like, no, really want this thing, then, then you have to develop a strong why.
And then when it gets hard, instead of focusing, remember where you focus, and this is all been proven out through neuro psychology and all PET imaging that where your focus goes, that’s where the mental energy flows and that’s when your subconscious kicks in and makes it become a reality. So if you’re focusing on, oh my gosh, he’s not sleeping, I’m not getting any sleep, and you’re focusing on the problem, well guess what? You’re going to get more of. You’re going to get more of that problem. But if the problem you’re focusing on, we’re doing this because it’s best for him. It’s going to have him have a healthy life. So here you’re in the struggle, but your mind is on the results changes so much faster because you’re giving your mind and then by proxy your child’s mental state that power it needs to push through on those harder times. And as we do that, as we focus in that way, it actually gives us the energy and just the fortitude to work through the hard stuff.
Sharon: You know, interesting to hear you say that actually one of the first episodes of this podcast is an episode that I recorded and it’s called finding your why and to help motivate you as a parent, to stay firm in your beliefs and, and to stay consistent.
Shannon: It’s everything. And then the other two, the second piece of it would be you’ve got your vision, but then you have your own personal state too. So if you’re just doing work for yourself and the things you want to change, that’s different. But you’ve got to human being here, your child in you. And so you’re making that vision and that end goal for what you want for your child. Make sure you’re including what you want for you too, because there’s two individuals here or three and that vision needs to be fully and complete, not just for the child, but for you personally, for your spouse so that it’s a whole picture and then making sure that the actions that you’re taking is aligning with the thing that you want versus the urgency of the moment because the urgency of the moment will pass and being able to shift to that change really is allowing yourself to do the hard things so that you can have that vision.
Sharon: Yeah, I think that’s very powerful advice. I think sometimes as parents we forget that we get so wrapped up in trying to do things for our children and make our children happy and you know, we forget that they, they are a big part of our world, but they are not necessarily the center and the only part of our world and if we not taking care of ourselves or our relationship or the other people around that we, that we need to be healthy and strong. They lose out in the end too.
Shannon: Sure. Do they sure do. And they need someone, they need that role model for their parenting to be able to know that they, they can be whole and complete person and also raise complete children and the only way that they really see that is really good.
Sharon: Yeah, I agree. One hundred percent. So the other question that I have for you is, um, when you have a co-parent, so some people don’t, but I think most of the listeners have a co parent, even if they’re not living with that parent that they share this responsibility with and that co parent may have different ideas or different way of parenting. How do you recommend that parents who don’t see eye to eye on certain things or are just not in the exact same stage of readiness to make change? How do you recommend that they get on the same page? Because I do think it’s really important for parents to be on the same page or at least communicate well with each other about it for the parenting to be effective.
Shannon: Absolutely. And so what typically happens, and I’m assuming you see this as well, is that we try to make those pivots in parenting in the middle of a stressful situation where every human being involved at that point is on in some stage of fight or flight. And if you’re trying to make those shifts and changes in those moments, then what’s happening is the you, you can’t. Your prefrontal cortex is just completely overloaded and you cannot reason. So you’re trying to create a reasoning with your partner in a, in a state of mind that your brain is absolutely not supporting you doing that. And so first of all, you’ve got to pull it out of that context. And again, going with that co parents, that spouse sitting down when nothing is going on, when there’s no stress arod, you make a date, an appointment with each other and you say, you know what? On this day and this time, let’s sit down and define how we are going to parents. Because parenting it is, it is one. It has to be that one voice because like you said, if there are two different parenting styles, then a child is going to learn how to manipulate that in not because they’re bad kids, but because that’s human nature and so. Yeah, absolutely. And so having that moment where you just say, look, we both want the best for our child, so let’s. Because we value it if, and again, I always like to take it back to business because it’s something that we do as human beings. We all have jobs and we all have those, those businesses and things, you know, you would never try to accomplish something, a project or get something done within a business without sitting down and making sure everybody was on the same page. It would fail and you would not even think about doing it that way, but yet we do it with our parenting, which is so much, in my opinion, so much more important. Even though I love my businesses, you know, so sit down with that parent and, and make decisions together. How are we gonna? How are we going to discipline? How are we going to approach them when they don’t do what we say? You’ve got to define the stress points in your parenting where you differ and really talk that through and as in everything they go into it with the understanding that there’s probably going to be some compromise and if you go into it with that, then you’re not like CSI know standing on two sides of the fence trying to like prove your point is better than, than theirs and it really is probably best for your children somewhere in the middle. But, um, and if you feel like you’re so far apart from each other that like even immediate thinking about meeting to do that feels stressful. Then I would really encourage you to reach out and get resources that aren’t involved with your family, that can help you with some of that decision making on specific situations that you could read together and then talk about what you’ve read and then make a decisions because then it takes this, this, I want this. You want this to a place of, wow, okay, this looks like it might work. What do you think, how would that work? So it takes it to more neutral place, so if you know, you have a very charged area where you just disagree and um, that, that kind of neutralizes it. But doing this in a non stressful environment as best as you can. Right? I know not everybody’s situation is perfect and that’s a little challenging, but again, always keeping that, that end goal of what we want for our child, what we want for ourselves and, and meeting is just a way to make sure that that consistently happens and then actually make an agreement and this is an interesting one, but it really is effective once you have gone through and made those decisions together because it sounds good in the moment and you go, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then you get into a stressful situation and you revert back. So even as go as far as like writing a contract between each other and saying, I agree that no matter what, I will uphold this and come up together with what you’re going to do when you don’t.
Sharon: Yeah. I find contracts, actually I’ve never had a contract with my husband but actually have very similar parenting philosophies, so I feel very fortunate about that but we have had contracts between our children, our daughters are older daughters, have had a lot of their, you know, disagreements and were actually advised by someone to have a sibling contract and we did do that and we revise them and we remind them and there are consequences and it really does work. I mean it has changed a lot of our family dynamic and I could see that working great between parents actually.
Shannon: Yeah. And it’s just, as you well know with what you did with your daughters, we are so charged about our own ways of doing things. And remember those are charged because we have stories about it in our subconscious. And so your subconscious, there’s resisting like, no, don’t, don’t, don’t change this. This is automated. I don’t want it changed. And this is, this is working very smoothly. I don’t have to think about it. And change is just a simple matter of taking those thoughts off autopilot, deciding what you want that story to be, which is what you can develop together, and then repeating that time and time and time and time again til it really becomes as automatic as the old way of doing it. Your subconscious, it sounds funny, but your subconscious eventually has to obey. Just like any child, it’s neutral. It’s just going to continue. Whatever you continue to feed it over time, it will eventually automate because it’s trying to make things easy for you. But that contract just makes it such a, a third party kind of feeling that people, just, our minds accepted better.
Sharon: Yeah. Now it seems a lot less confrontational and absolutely. Yeah, that’s great advice. I hope that people find that useful and really put it into action because it really can be very, very helpful. Um, so how can the audience reach you if they want to hear more from you?
Shannon: Oh, you’re sweet. Well, I’m across all the social channels at Dr. Shannon Irvine and my website is DrShannonIrvine.com and I’d love to be able to help everybody in their journey as they’re walking through, going through change and just becoming the very best version of themselves as a parent and as a human being.
Sharon: Well, thank you so much for being here. This has been awesome. And I found it very helpful. So I’m sure others will too. I look forward to sharing this with everyone and can’t wait to talk again soon. Thank you Shannon. And all of you who are listening, make sure you subscribe to Shannon’s podcast and give her a great review because that helps her out a lot. Thank you.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the Raiseology podcast. Head over to www.Raiseology.com, where you’ll find plenty of You’ve Got This resources for parents and any links or tools mentioned it today show. Be sure to hit subscribe on your podcatcher so that you can listen to the next episode the minute it’s out. Til next time, have an empowered week.
Meet Your Mentor
Sharon is a general pediatrician, loving wife and mother to 4 daughters.
After a decade of practicing general pediatrics and working with families, she realized there often wasn’t enough time while tending to children’s medical needs to help parents in the way that would be most helpful in shaping their children’s futures.
The Raiseology Program was developed to teach parents how to raise their children with the love and authority necessary to promote resilience and responsibility.
Sharon’s experience with hundreds of families as well as her own help her meet you where you are on your parenting journey to help you make it what you want it to be.
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