Adding Heart to Parenting — Why It’s So Important Now

January 20, 2023 00:21:44
Adding Heart to Parenting — Why It’s So Important Now
HeartMath's Add Heart
Adding Heart to Parenting — Why It’s So Important Now

Jan 20 2023 | 00:21:44

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Show Notes

Topic: Adding Heart to Parenting — Why It’s So Important Now
Guest: Dr. Jorina Elbers

Our guest for this episode is Dr. Jorina Elbers, a pediatric neurologist with a special interest in trauma-informed medicine and the mother of two adventurous and energetic boys. Jorina joins Deborah Rozman, our Add Heart® Podcast host, to talk about one of the world’s biggest personal growth opportunities: parenting.

Today’s stressful world and all its unpredictable changes often create challenges in our home life. Many of today’s issues are adding mental and emotional strain on parents. Our children and grandchildren feel these stressors too, which can lead to an increase in undesirable behaviors, such as acting out, talking back, not listening, etc. As their patience is tested, many parents try to correct and control their kids’ attitudes and actions—without a lot of success.

Jorina, who is also the program director for the Trauma Recovery Project at the HeartMath Institute, shares with Deborah how she and her husband, Owen, have found that by focusing first on their own emotional self-regulation, then tuning in to their heart for intuitive direction, their communications with their boys have become much more effective.

Jorina shares with listeners a couple of powerful heart tools she uses to manage her personal energy and shift into a heart-coherent place, which enables her to reduce over-reacting to her children’s undesirable behavior.

She says many parents are told to just breathe to avoid reacting. However, if we don’t add heart coherence to a situation, we often end up lecturing a child, which shuts down communication. Learning how to shift into heart coherence is key for increasing a parent’s ability to respond in a way that empowers them in adverse situations—and kids do take notice.

Jorina and Deborah also discuss how we can allow children to experience intense emotions in a healthy way. Rather than scolding their behavior, using heart-directed practices can validate their emotions, which helps to defuse their energy and allows for a deeper heart connection and communication to unfold, uncovering what’s really going on.

Jorina says, “When we elevate our personal energy first, get into a heart-coherent space, we can then also help our kids to elevate their energy. When you have kids and parents working together in this way, the connection and communication can be very deep and rewarding.”  

The episode closes with a guided heart meditation to help us energize our commitment to elevate our own energy first and better help our children.

About our guest:
Dr. Jorina Elbers is a pediatric neurologist with a special interest in trauma-informed medicine. She was recently an assistant professor at Stanford University and is currently the program director for the Trauma Recovery Project at the HeartMath Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit. She has published over 25 peer-reviewed manuscripts and book chapters and created trauma-sensitive programs for health practitioners, first responders, refugees, and parents.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Welcome to the Ad Heart Podcast, the podcast that inspires heart first living. This is where you'll get practical tools to reduce stress, inspire creative action, and energize your personal growth momentum, along with ways to apply these tools. And now here's your host, Debra Rosman. Speaker 1 00:00:21 Hello, I'm Deborah Rosman and a warm welcome to our listeners. The purpose of the Ad Heart podcast is to inspire forward movement and heart powered intention. My topic, this episode is Ad Heart to Parenting. And my guest, Dr. Geena Elbers, is the creator of a new program HeartMath for Parents that teaches simple tools to use in the moment to manage overwhelm, regain composure, and build the personal resilience needed to be the parent or grandparent you want to be. And this program is available now. I have known Rina for many years, ever since she worked at Stanford Children's Hospital as a pediatric neurologist. She also created heart maths program, the Resilient Heart for addressing trauma. And now as a parent of two young boys, she's passionate about sharing with parents the way she's learned to use HeartMath tools to manage feelings of overwhelm, anxiety or frustration as a parent, and to help children express and manage their emotions in a healthy way and have productive conversations with less upset. Welcome, Rina. Speaker 2 00:01:45 Thanks so much for having me, Debbie. There's, uh, there's so much going on in the world right now. Um, so much chaos and uncertainty that it's such an important time for us as parents to, you know, to get a foothold, um, and to find some stability for ourselves and for our children. So I'm, I'm, I'm really happy to be here and, uh, love, love this topic. Speaker 1 00:02:11 Well, thank you so much. It is so important right now. And in fact, you say parenting is the world's biggest personal growth opportunity. What is a key thing you've learned using heart meth tools with your boys? Where have you grown? Speaker 2 00:02:28 Well, I, I think I'd like to start off and, and say that for me, parenting has been the most difficult job. Mm. Um, I think it's one of the hardest jobs in the world. And, you know, having done medical school and residency and call and long hours, um, there isn't really anything that compares to the depletion that you can get as a parent. And, uh, you know, when I'm depleted, I'm not my best self and I can't parent as well as I want to parent when I'm depleted. And for many of us, that's where we end up parenting from. So I think one of the biggest ways that Heart Math has influenced my parenting is, is really building awareness, um, of when I'm depleted and giving me the tools to work with in that situation. So if I have a, a big, you know, upset over something small, um, I have some awareness around that and can be like, okay, uh, where did that come from? <laugh>, there's probably something else going on here. Um, and with that awareness, I can choose something different. There's a choice point. Um, and, and I, you know, we say awareness precedes change. Hmm. And I think, I think that's where that, that personal growth opportunity is, is those moments where we can choose something different. Speaker 1 00:04:02 I like that. You know, we talked about the HeartMath tools being things people can do in the moment rather than after the fact, after you're already drained and burned out and then to recoup. And I think that's so important for that building that awareness because you're aware and then you go, oh, what, what do I do about it? And that is the biggest issue. And so I know you talk a lot about that in heart math for parenting is the importance of being aware, but then catching yourself and going, here's what I can do to shift or become a different, uh, person than what I would've been if I just reacted. Speaker 2 00:04:38 That's right. That's right. And, you know, I think those moments of, um, you know, there are so many of them that come up throughout the day, that can be that choice point of, you know, can I, if I have a conflict with my, with my child or with my partner, um, am I using that as an opportunity to blow off steam right. And vent and get upset? Um, or am I gonna use that as an opportunity to connect? And that's where the heart really comes in, because when I can connect to the heart and slow down and do some heart focused breathing, my freq, my whole frequency changes and I, and the desire and the need to blow off steam goes down, and my desire to connect goes up. And I too, I I, I end up doing things differently when I'm in my heart, when I'm coming from a heart frequency of patients, um, or understanding. And things turn out really differently when I do that. Speaker 1 00:05:43 No, I love that. The other thing people often do, and we all do this in our own lives, when something triggers us and we can't just connect right away as process, you know, I should have said it this early, I'm not a great person. I'm bad in all this tef talk that is really depleting and draining and non-effective, yet we think we're being good doing that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And one thing about using HeartMath tools in the moment, whether it's for parenting grandparenting or just parenting yourself, is really how it can stop that drain and shift perspective and give you something healthy to do with your thoughts and feelings, rather than processing how you wish you would've, could have, should have done something different. Speaker 2 00:06:27 Yeah. Yeah. I think as parents, we can be really critical of ourselves. Um, we should have done things differently. I should've known better. And, you know, I think that'll come up. Um, it still does for me. And, and, uh, there's, it's just not, it's not quite as loud and, and I think it's a little easier for me to have compassion, at least through the heart, heart focused breathing, I get to neutral around it. Yeah. Um, and so that, and from that neutral place, it's hard for me to go to compassion from, you know, frustration and anger at myself. <laugh>. Yeah. That's a big leap. Um, but if I can get to neutral with the heart focused breathing, and then I can sort of move into that love and that compassion for myself that, ugh, I just didn't, I didn't do that very well. And then I give myself permission for, um, you know, apologizing and saying, Hey guys, you know, I didn't show up there the way that I wanted to. And can I, can we do that again? You know, can I have a do-over on that? And now they have, you know, they have that language now too. And so they can do it back to me. And, and sometimes I'll prompt them. I'll say, you know what, you know, may you know, was that the best way to respond? Like, how about you try that again, and then they'll try it again? And so we have this back and forth now as part of our, you know, just our every day and the language that we use. Speaker 1 00:07:54 That's wonderful. I love that. That just allows the, uh, allows the acceptance of feelings and knowing that we can self-correct, self-adjust or try over. In fact, I was gonna ask you, how do we allow our children to experience intense emotions in a health away, in a healthy way and not get triggered ourselves? What do you do Yeah. When you with that situation? Speaker 2 00:08:22 Well, you know, I think that's a, that's a, that's a big one. I think, um, intense emotions are a hook for parents, um, a lot of the time, because we ourselves are not comfortable with intense emotions. I mean, I know for myself, you know, I kind of grew up, um, you know, if, if I was really upset, you know, I was allowed to cry, but I had to do it in my room. Mm-hmm. You know, you can cry, but go to your room, I don't wanna see it. Mm-hmm. And so you kind of push it away and, and you have this, this feeling that intense emotions are bad or that I'm bad for having an intense emotion. And I think there's a risk when we don't let our children experience these intense emotions and, um, that they can suppress them. And, uh, and there's a lot of depression that we're, you know, our youth are experiencing. Speaker 2 00:09:12 And so, um, encouraging the expression of emotions is part of being healthy and, and letting that energy move through. And so, you know, one of the things that we talk about, um, you know, in our family and, and in the, the parenting course, um, that, that we're, that we're launching is really validating emotions, naming them, you know, if the child can name them or we can help them name them, and really allowing them to have that angry feeling, frustrated feeling, um, and not necessarily needing them to change it. And, and I think that there's, there can be some confusion with the term self-regulation, right? That self-regulation doesn't mean feel something differently or stop feeling this way. Right. It means don't break the furniture or hit your brother Speaker 2 00:10:08 <laugh>. And so we really, we want to accept our children in that emotion, whatever they're feeling, we can sit with them. We can let them know that we're there for them in that emotion, but we can set boundaries with them. You know, uh, it's not okay to say hurtful things. It's okay for you to feel this way, but you know, it's, it, when you say these things in that emotion, it can be hurtful. You can't break things. You can't hurt people. Um, and so acceptance of the feeling with healthy boundaries, um, and really allowing the emotion to move through. And I think that I know for myself sometimes I've been, you know, that that's part of getting triggered is like, this is gonna last forever. You know, that this intense emotion is coming out and, and they don't, right. These emotions, they move through. It's a, it's a form of energy. Um, and so knowing that this is going to end, and can I just be with this, um, not of it, but just allow my child to be, you know, be in this and be with them as they're moving through it in love and acceptance. Speaker 1 00:11:18 So if you really get triggered by something they say that affects your feeling of value as a mother, or you feel hurt or whatever, what do you do? What tool do you bring out in a, you do heart focused breathing, but what else do you do? Speaker 2 00:11:36 Um, well, I, I do a whole lot of heart focused breathing <laugh>. That's exactly what I do. Um, you know, and, and sometimes I, I, sometimes it's not enough, and sometimes I'll need my partner to come in. So if I've been sitting with my child for a long time, for example, you know, it's been half an hour and there's a spiraling of this, you know, emotional intensity, and I don't feel like I can continue to hold it in the way that I want to, then, you know, if you have a partner, you can ask your partner to sort of tag in Speaker 1 00:12:11 Mm-hmm. Speaker 2 00:12:12 <affirmative>. Um, and sometimes I will say, you know what? I need a break right now. Like, I need to reset. Speaker 1 00:12:20 Yeah. Speaker 2 00:12:20 And, and again, you know, the best way for our children to learn these tools is to see, right? Is to have them see us use them. Yeah. And so I'll say, you know, I need to do some hard focused breathing, or I need a break. Um, and let them know that that's what I'm doing, and I'll take, you know, they'll see me take a breath or, um, if I have really little children, um, when they were really little, one tip was to, you know, to say like, mommy needs to go to the bathroom right now, <laugh>. Speaker 1 00:12:50 Right. Speaker 2 00:12:51 Because they can understand that. And, you know, as long as they're safe, and you know what, I, I'm still with you and I can talk to you through the door, but mommy just needs to go to the bathroom. And then I would, you know, go into the bathroom and <laugh> do some just to get a little bit of space or even just another side of the room, and I can still see what they're doing and I can take my break from there. Speaker 1 00:13:11 That's great. You know, you explained to me one point that adding heart, you know, putting out heart energy during conversations with your child was so important as well, and that you can, you or any adult in a conversation with a child can breathe and not scream, but you're still lecturing. And lecturing still misses a certain heart exchange. And that what you say, the heart frequency when you tap into it is what brings a place of understanding and acceptance and connection with your intuition on what to do. Can you say more about that? That seemed really profound to me. And the, any story you can share. Speaker 2 00:13:53 Yeah, I mean, I think, I think that we, you know, many of us have had the experience of like, I'm calm. You know, I'm, I'm, I'm really calm right now, but I, you know, I'm, I, but you're still, you know, you can be patronizing, you can be belittling, um, you can be critical, but calm, and that's not the same thing as being in your heart and being coherent. And so, you know, I had this great experience with my older son, um, he's 11 and, you know, it was nine 30 at night and I was going in to, to tuck him in. And sure enough, he was on his, on his phone, on his screen, and we've had so many conversations about screen time and not being on his phone. Um, and in that moment I wanted to, I wanted to yell at him. I wanted to like, you know, what are you doing <laugh>? Speaker 2 00:14:49 You know? Um, and I just, I did, I, I took, I took 10 seconds and I got in my heart and I did some heart focused breathing, and I was really able to come in with a different energetic, and that energetic that ended up coming out was of understanding, right? I, you know what, honey? I get it. That screen is so addictive and you know, I have a hard time and dad has a hard time and we all, you know, we're having a hard time with this screen, and what can we do about it? Right? What, you know, and really engaged, I really engaged him in the conversation about it. And we talked about what the screen is doing to his brain and dopamine, and you know, how the, the YouTube shorts are really just giving him that, you know, that surge of dopamine every minute <laugh>, and that your brain just starts searching for that over and over and over again, and it's not good for your brain. Speaker 2 00:15:52 And we were able to just have a conversation rather than me yelling at him and taking his phone and, you know, all the other things that can re easily happen in a situation like that. And I ask him questions in that, in that space of what do you think about this? Hmm. And what was so interesting after that conversation, and it was really a moment of connection, and, and this is what I mean, if we can come from a a, you know, a, a place of heart, we can turn these moments of conflict into a moment of connection. And I asked him afterwards, you know, I said, how, you know, how does my response to you in these moments, um, if I have a different kind of response where I'm asking you and engaging you in these things, he's old enough, you know, we can talk about it. Speaker 2 00:16:43 How does it change, you know, the, this conflict for you? And he, you know, he's, he's pretty insightful. And he said, well, you know, it really makes me think about it more. It makes me think about, you know, what I did and why I shouldn't. And, you know, I said, and how is it different than if I were to yell at you and take your phone away? And, and he said, well, if you did that, I would just think about, um, how not not to get caught next time. Right. And it puts him on the defensive, oh, mom's so mean, or She's so unfair, or she's, so this right. When I act in that way, so, so if I, if I come from a different space, a higher frequency of patience, understanding, then I engage him in that conversation and he's able to get and self-reflect and not get defensive. And it just changes the whole dynamic. Speaker 1 00:17:36 Well, that's wise advice, I think, with anyone where there's a potential conflict situation, adult or child, you know, the making. That's right. That's what I, taking that pause, doing the heart focus, breathing, getting back into your heart, and then obviously according to the research of heart math, you know, as you put in, you can activate those feelings or heart qualities of patience, kindness, not just to be a doormat, but to really connect with your intuition, which is what it sounds like you did. Whether you thought of it that way or not, on what to do, the questions you asked, how you handled it, had a lot of heart intelligence to it. So I think that's important to understand the mechanism, the process, so that people really can know they can do it, you know? Yeah. It's really possible. Speaker 2 00:18:26 That's right. No, I, I mean, I had never planned to have that conversation, <laugh>. I was certainly not, you know, something I thought about or premeditated in advance. It really, it came in the, in the moment with that connection, um, to my intuition. Speaker 1 00:18:41 Is there any other advice you'd like to share on what parents, grandparents, family, friends, caregivers, teachers, anyone can do to help children find more ease and balance during these insecure and terribly uncertain times in the war? Speaker 2 00:18:59 You know, I, I really think that it's about helping our children learn flexibility and resilience. And, and I mean, we use that word a lot at HeartMath. And I think in a world of uncertainty and change and chaos in the world that we're living in, building the skills for flexibility and then resilience, the ability to, to adapt in the face of change, to prepare for, um, the stress that's coming up, um, to, to bounce back from stressors, you know, those things are so important. And so how do we model that for our children? And then how do we help our children develop those skills of resilience and really talking about it, Hey, you know, let's, uh, let's be flexible here. Let's find a different solution. Um, and really being careful of our energy management and that those depleting energies because when we're depleted, that ability to change, that flexibility is lost. Mm-hmm. Um, and we move towards, you know, either chaos or rigidity. Speaker 1 00:20:11 Very, very well said. And of course, that's what motivated you and HeartMath for us to do this heart math for parents program, cuz everything you're talking about is really providing parents or caregivers skill, skillset tools to really learn how to do this. And I think that's wonderful because we're doing it for ourselves as well as for our children. Speaker 2 00:20:33 Absolutely. Speaker 1 00:20:35 Well, let's do a, a heart meditation together on adding heart to parenting. And let's remember, we're parent all parenting ourselves, whether or not we have children in our lives. So let's center in the heart and just breathe in the heart, qualities of love, gratitude, or appreciation for a few minutes to warm the heart, increase your heart coherence, now radiate heartfelt love and appreciation to the children in your life, to children that you care about. Next, let's radiate love and compassion to parents everywhere who are struggling to raise their children the best they can during these stressful and uncertain times. See the collective hard energy helping to draw more effective solutions to them for the challenges they're facing. Now, let's close by co-creating a reservoir of hard energy. Mis visualize a reservoir of our collective heart, energy of love and appreciation and gratitude and compassion. And know that each of us can draw on this reservoir over the next month to help parent our own mind and emotions. Or would we feel depleted to draw in that reservoir, to build our resilience or to help children? Let's build that reservoir and see ourselves utilizing it as we need to. Speaker 1 00:25:13 Thank you for sharing that with me. It's so important, the quality of hard energy and frequency we put out for ourselves and for the next generation. Gina, I'm sure you have inspired many of our listeners. Is there anything else you wanna leave people with today? Speaker 2 00:25:35 Sure. I think, uh, you know, for all of us as parents, regardless of of the age of your child, you know, I, I think everyone is dealing with stress. And so again, you know, building that awareness around how stress might be playing out in your children, um, and that these, you know, suppressed emotions or stress can come out as chronic fatigue or depression or emotional blowups or even frequent illnesses. And so how can we support our children so that they can be resilient and help them find what's replenishing for them, what charges their battery? So we are always thinking about sleep and healthy food, but play, you know, time with friends, music, creative expression, these are the things that can be replenishing for children can charge their battery. And, you know, many of these things end up falling to the wayside because we prioritize school or competitive sports or homework. Speaker 2 00:26:42 Um, but really understand that these things are depleting for your child. And so really making sure that yes, we can have the competitive sports and the homework in the school, but let's really understand that, you know, where that energy, how is that energy, you know, at the end of the day And is your child depleted? Are they really stressed? And if they are, then how can you start to build in that rep those replenishing activities for them, um, so that we can build their, help them build their resilience, um, and so they can navigate through these times as well. Speaker 1 00:27:18 That's beautifully said. And you know, I just realized that so many parents, if the child is not, is acting out or, or really not responding, blame themselves. And I just wanna say, children have their own personality, their own, they come in with their own things to learn. It's not always about you. Absolutely. And often it's about supporting them and listening to see how do I guide them through their own learning and growing process the best that I can, knowing that it's not about being perfect, but it's about that deep part listening Without blaming yourself, just manage your own energies and they'll give you more intuitive insight on how to help your children. Speaker 1 00:28:03 You can go to heartmath.org or harout.com to check out the New Heart Math for Parenting Program and this is just launching now. So encourage you to, to do that. And as a gift to you, I wanna let you all know you can also get free access to the heart math experience to learn several helpful techniques for connecting with your deeper hearts intuitive guidance and next steps. So I also wanna remind you that the third Tuesday of every month we publish a new episode. So be sure you subscribe to the Ad Heart podcast so you don't miss our next guest end topic. Take care. Speaker 0 00:28:46 Thank you for listening to the Ad Heart podcast. Be sure to subscribe so you can catch the latest episodes. If you're wanting even more heart inspired content, find us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Look for HeartMath and also the HeartMath Institute. Both organizations are committed to helping activate the heart of humanity.

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