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How do I help my child through their debilitating anxiety?

"I blamed myself. I didn't see the signs. I wish I would've done it sooner."
How often do you get to hear a mom vulnerably share from hindsight all the regrets she has AND the ways she's grown and found self-compassion?!

Lynn McLaughlin is a former teacher, principal, and superintendent turned author and college educator while being a mom to three kids age 24-28.  Her middle child was a volatile child with BIG emotions and eventually debilitating anxiety, and Lynn had no idea how to help.

Lynn is able now to look back and share ways she would've shifted from swooping in and enabling out of fear and worry to modeling and building coping skills.

  • How to shift your response from being responsive to being proactive
  • The importance of reflection, mindfulness and modeling as parents
  • Clarity on when to help and when to back off
  • The messages you send based on how you react
  • How Lynn no longer blames herself, yet changed her behavior 

Interview: How to Avoid Falling Down the Parenting Well with Torie Henderson

Taking the Helm Podcast is on VoiceAmerica Talk Radio Network LIVE every Wednesday at 10 am EST. Call into the show at 866-472-5792.
Children's Book Series: The Power of Thought
IG: @lynnmcla

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Lynn McLaughlin 0:00
You know, first of all, I think we have to say, what are we modeling? Are we modeling, you know, keeping calm? Are we modeling being present? Are we letting devices control our life? Are we being reactive rather than proactive? And that's hard to do. And so I think the first step is for people to say, Okay, it's not working, something's not working in my family. What am I going to do about it? And it's that personal reflection

Danielle Bettmann 0:31
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety...not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Showing her insecurities, her fears or failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here.

Danielle Bettmann 1:43
Hey, it's Danielle. Imagine getting to run scenarios from your future and getting to hear what to do and what not to do before they ever happen, saving yourself and your child years of misery. That is the treat of what you get to do by hearing Lynn's story today. Lynn McLaughlin is my guest today. She now has three children that are age 24, 25 and 28. Her middle child was a volatile child with big emotions, and eventually debilitating anxiety. And Lynn had no idea how to help at the time. She shares in a really relatable way why it was so hard for her to realize what was going on. Because she didn't know what she didn't know. She describes her path of becoming responsive, when ideally what she needed to be was proactive. We get a chance to dive into tangible examples of what that can look like before age 10 as well. She talks a lot about the importance of modeling healthy coping skills, and emotional intelligence. Realizing that behavior is communication, not disrespect, and how to support your child when they're struggling rather than swooping in and saving them and enabling them sending unhelpful messages long term. She has also grown leaps and bounds in her ability to be compassionate to herself, going from blaming herself for all of her daughter's struggles to change in her behavior without the blame and fostering a thriving relationship with her daughter today. Lynn has served in many roles as an educator, as a principal, Vice Principal, teacher, consultant, and superintendent. She has written an award winning book titled Jackson. That takes us through a fictional perspective of the true story of her life, a mom trying to save her son and a young man who suffers from a debilitating journey. And she's also teamed up with her niece, Amber Ramin, to co-author a children's book series entitled The Power of Thought ,all about helping children learn the tools they need to manage their emotions at a young age, problem solving and finding positive solutions that benefit their mental health in a proactive way. So we'll connect with all those resources in here much about it at the end of this episode. It's truly a treat to hear reflections and stories from a mom in retrospect and what she learned in hindsight, and it's so valuable to learn from when we have so much opportunity to make those changes today. Our kids are walking into a very complicated world and need every tool they can get. So I'm excited for you to hear her perspective and be able to integrate these things now while we still have a chance. So without further ado, let's dive in.

Danielle Bettmann 4:54
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann and on today's episode I'm joined by Lynn McLaughlin. Hey Lynn, thanks so much for being here.

Lynn McLaughlin 5:03
Hey, thank you. We're both loving the warmer weather. And it's a great day.

Danielle Bettmann 5:08
Yes, yes, it's a great day to talk parenting and anxiety and lots of listeners will be able to relate. So I'm so grateful that you are farther along in life. And you're turning around and helping those moms in the trenches behind you, which is so cool and so neat. And in such a unique perspective, I knew I had to have you on and pick your brain because you're doing such cool things. So thank you so much for your time and for being here. And I've already shared a little bit about you. But go ahead and just reintroduce yourself. Who are you and who's in your family?

Lynn McLaughlin 5:40
Well, I just have to start by saying thank you to you. I love what you're doing. I wish you know, my kids are all I've got three adult children now. 24 to 29. And gosh, I wish I had somebody like you when when I was in the trenches, and they were little in the midst of our careers and everything else. And yeah, so I am now proudly a 60 year old, not a grandma yet. I doubt none of my kids are listening. No pressure. No, but I do I can't wait for that day. That'd be awesome. Except none of them live near me. But anyway, regardless, that's something that's really cool. That's come of it. Yeah. So I'm still an educator, a lifelong educator, I now teach it post secondary. But as you said, in the introduction, I've done all kinds of roles as a teacher and learned from every single one of them. It's kind of cool to be see different perspectives, right? When you're in a classroom in charge of a school making system changes. It's all been fascinating. You know, so I'll just say, people have a moment in their life where you know, you do the shift, while my major shift happened. I was one year into the most challenging career change, I met my career goal, I surpassed my career goal. And long story short, I sat at from an MRI machine, and they sent me right to emergency and I had a brain tumor. So I you know, we can talk a lot about that. That's not what the premise is today. But that made me stop in my tracks and say, hold off, get off this treadmill, I had no choice. I had to get off the treadmill. It'll be 10 years this summer, actually, everything is great. I'm tumor free, congratulations, they got the tumor out. I mean, there's the After Effects. But that stopped. Danielle, that year in time through recovery now is where I went, hold on a minute, there's something more here I missing the signs that are all around me. And when I retired, boom, several things that happen. After that time, my middle daughter had experienced some debilitating anxiety for a period of her life that we had to go through. And that was another learning experience that, you know, you've had several guests, it's different. You know, here I am an educator and my portfolio, special education and partially mental health, but when it's in your own home with someone you love so dearly. It's just entirely different. So lots of things have taken me to where I am today. And when you look back and look at those signs. I know I'm on the right path. I know what I'm doing right now and helping people think proactively is what is needed. And I don't live in mom guilt. I do not. But I you know, as you said with other people on your show, we can help other people to learn. Because what I knew that I knew then what I know now I know now.

Danielle Bettmann 8:16
Yes. Oh, so good. Okay, so I want to be able to get the backstory, if you could take us back and paint the picture of some of the onset of the anxiety and the relationship that your daughter had with anxiety, what that looked like for her, and then what that felt like for you and some of like your lived experience of parenting her through that.

Lynn McLaughlin 8:42
Sure. And let me start by saying she got on a plane six months ago and traveled to Indonesia and is tutoring English right now. So good for her. Yeah, so she found her way and I'll talk a lot about that. But yes, okay, that's fun to forecast. Okay. You know, and in retrospect, you know, if I knew then what I know now, but she was a difficult birth. And then at three months of age, hospitalized with no diagnosis at the time, but we were pretty sure it was RSV was on Ventolin treatments at home now. So she is the middle child. So at this time, only her older brother was born. So Ventolin treatments and then we got through that. And we moved to a different location. Third child was born. She's the middle child, and she started having breathing issues and eventually over time was diagnosed with childhood asthma. Okay, so that involves a lot of visits that involves a lot of doctor's visits, sometimes hospitalizations, and it wasn't until she was in Grade Two that I knew something specific that happened in a day and a hospital was really hard. I never thought of it as trauma. I never knew back then that a difficult birth. Three months old, three years old, four years old could to give children a traumatic experience that is going to affect them for life.

Danielle Bettmann 10:04
How could you have known at that point?

Lynn McLaughlin 10:06
Yeah, well, no, yeah. Well, we know now and this is why I want to share this. And I don't want to create any fear and say, oh my gosh, if your child has a cold, then you need to... right? But this is a specific incident. And she's given me permission to talk about this. We live out in a county, where farm fields and something was happening that day where I ended up taking her to our local hospital, and they wanted to send her to one that was about 45 minutes away with a pediatric specialty. Unfortunately, there was another little boy who also needed to go to the hospital and his mum didn't have a ride. So they went in the ambulance and there was no room for me. So here's my daughter, three and a half, four, I think at the time, often an ambulance with people she doesn't know. And I'll tell you what happened when she was agreed to a little bit later. Of course, I didn't get there as quickly as the ambulance did. My husband I think was out of town. He was police officer out of town at the time. She's at the hospital for probably 20 minutes to you know, and in the care of people. She has no idea she doesn't know who they are. Yeah, scary. And by the time I got there, she was quite upset. I calmed her, but then they needed to put an IV in Oh, and long story short, here's the shoulda coulda woulda, but I can't do it. A nurse grabbed her from my arms and took her to another room. I remember her taking out of that room through glass doors in the other room, and I could hear her screaming on the other side of those doors. And she came back and her arm was blocked. And the IV was in. I never left her side, I slept with her. I mean, she was on an antibiotic. She was on oxygen. I think she was in the hospital for three days. So we got through that, you know, we're back home, we're moving into the formal diagnosis. We've got the you know, the puffers, and all of those things we're working through. And I can talk about the behaviors and all those things that came to light. But it was when she was in Grade Two, she was asked to write something and I don't remember exactly what the prompt was, she wrote a story. Almost exactly what happened in that day, I could not believe this was grade 2 maybe 3 three, three years later. And it was very clear to me that wow, wow, if a child remember something and can actually share it. And so long story short, over time, we did start to see anxious things happening, she became afraid of going to the doctor was afraid of having needles, you know, as she got older, with vaccinations in the schools, we had to make private appointments because she didn't want to do that in front of other children. And we moved into child counseling and all of that at about the age of 10. But if I didn't know now, you know, you can get some help. And my understanding is I just spoke to someone who is a pediatrician, and hospitals and doctors are making valiant attempts and actually putting plans in place to not traumatize children like that, and do things to help them feel safe, before they have to have these procedures that are frightening and scary. So do I say joy? No, that's the reason for her anxiety. I think it's a huge, huge part of it. And yeah, just you put your eyes on and just know that that could be a possibility. And starting to ask questions and seek advice about it, I think is a wonderful thing to do to nip it in the bud. If you can, before it unfolds, it becomes something, you know, really more challenging.

Danielle Bettmann 13:27
Mm hmm. And this is 15-20 years ago that this original incident happened. So we're mental health conditions, a common practice that we talked about? Were you familiar with anxiety? Like how was there a counselor in the school and how often were you knowing that kids were going to people like this? Like, what was that like?

Lynn McLaughlin 13:50
You know, so, your podcast of you did a few weeks ago, we get the Oh 13 descriptors of children who were a strong-willed child. That's the way we thought of our daughter at that time. She wasn't struggling she came home from school when those clothes came off. She was She didn't you know, like the scenes and she had that outburst and things were ripped off the walls and anyway, we got through all of that. But back then. Timeout was what we did, right. Okay, so timeout, you wait for things to you want to call on the family getting ready to you wait for things to calm down, you go and have a conversation and you move on. And then the pieces of the puzzle started together. I knew all about anxiety and depression. I mean, that's part of what my job was for all those years as a school principal. My goodness and the levels of anxiousness in our students were rising significantly before I retired and we were in this is what I really want to get to with you in a little bit. Danielle is we were responsive. You know, we put child youth workers in schools and we train them to be the safe people and we put kids on modified schedule so they can come to school for one or two periods a day and you know, we were responsive. Okay, and we have to be responsive but if one What I'm trying to say now is, if we can be proactive and learn from what happened with myself and as an educator, as a parent, with people in my family as well, and say, What can we do before our kids are 10 years old. That's where I am now. Because there's a manual on how to be a parent, my goodness, every child is different, as you well know. And, you know, you think you got something figured out, and you really blew that one. And that's okay, and self compassion, and just, you know, having people like you, Danielle, who are running podcasts like this, that help people understand and say, Hey, I'm not alone. I'm not alone. Anyway, I kind of did a little bit of a tangent there, I'm sorry, I tend to do that.

Danielle Bettmann 15:41
Nope, that's what we're here to do. We're here to go on tangents. Okay, cuz I think the more that we can understand what it was like for you, you did have an advantage of being in the education field of, you know, being around lots of other kids and families and being able to have an overall understanding and normalizing that you might have these indicators and symptoms and behaviors to look out for and then be able to respond as a result. And they think that was a really powerful clarification you just made of shifting from being responsive to being proactive. And that has kind of been the biggest takeaway that you have now spent a lot of time, you know, working on creating tools for, but what does that look like, in schools that you would love to see families that you would love to see if they are experiencing a lot of the same struggles with their kids? What does that look like to go from being responsive to being proactive?

Lynn McLaughlin 16:42
Well, this is not popular to say, my niece and I actually are working together. She's a practicing clinical social worker, to me with the educator, we're actually going out and doing community and school presentations right now. But we have to look in the mirror first, because what worked for me as a kid isn't, or even my kids who are 25 years old, it's not working for our children. Right now, this is a far more complex world than any of us have ever imagined. So, you know, first of all, I think we have to say, what are we modeling? Are we modeling, you know, keeping calm? Are we modeling being present? Are we letting devices control our life? Are we being reactive, rather than proactive? And that's hard to do. And so I think the first step is for people to say, Okay, it's not working, something's not working in my family, and what am I going to do about it? And it's that personal reflection. So I think listening to podcasts, like yours are saying, you know, what are some clinically sound things that I can start to do. So let me just give you an example. I come home from work, I blow up high res chat about Baba, and then, okay, excuse me, everybody, I obviously I had a really bad day at work, I'm going to take 15 minutes, I'm gonna go out for a little quick walk, we'll talk when I get home. And then when you return, I am so sorry, you model empathy, you model being human, you model making mistakes, and then your kids say see that. And that becomes part of the natural, you know, conversation in the household, when we can start to talk about our emotions. And we did not do this as much, you know, 30-40 year olds, many of us we didn't suck it up buttercup, right? That was the generation. But if we can start to model talking about our feelings, not just, I have this feeling, but what am I going to do to solve it? Right? Because feelings all have a reason. And we have to be, what's the feeling? Why am I having this feeling? And now what am I going to do to solve it so that I can get on and move on with things? Right and not like it? Take it over? So I think we have to find a way and it's tough, right? For me to say to my kids, you know, after never being raised this way. I was really scared today. That's tough the first time around, but then it becomes natural. And guess what the conversation starts to unfold. I've got a little nine year old who I just talked to last week. First she can't wait to get home to talk to her mother about every and not what happened at school, her feelings, how she's worked through her feelings, the problem solving, once we can normalize that in our families, we will be in a much, much better place for the future of our kids. I think that for us, because it's better for us to

Danielle Bettmann 19:18
Right? Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. So I love that we got super practical, and I feel like we got ahead of ourselves. So I'm gonna take us back again. It's okay. No, this is good. Because then the people that didn't make it through the whole episode already got something really, really good from it. But for the rest of us that are sticking around. I'm sure that you had no guilt. No worries. You just nailed everything. The first time around with your daughter. No regrets. It was cupcakes and rainbows. Right.

Lynn McLaughlin 19:48
Wow. So opposite. I had to get counseling. I had to get therapy for myself, my husband I mean, she did really really well with child psychology and all and we didn't do because we learned What to do and what not to do and how to handle things and calm situations and use it as teachable moments. But it wasn't until she went away for university that she was in a narcissistic relationship. And we just had, she had the most horrendous year, year and a half of her life. And that's when, you know, we were like, Hey, we figured it out. It's okay, she's doing well. And I did, I had to go to counseling because I was actually impeding her progress. That was really hard to say, we've talked about it openly. Now. I wrote a book about it, actually, it's a fictional book, but I want it to be the controlling mother who said, You must do cognitive behavior therapy. Here it is, I was calling psychologists myself to book appointments, Danielle, and she was 20 years old. Like, really. So I had to learn where to set the blinds, I had to learn that I could not save her, she had to make those decisions herself. I went to meditation and learned why am I such a control freak, I had to go all the way back to my own childhood, you know, so it did become very complex. But I will tell you the self compassion part, it's only been working with my knees for the last three years that I've actually learned to say, Hey, it's okay. And the self compassion part has become part of my everyday practice. I will be honest with it wasn't until the last few years that I've really been able to do that and push that mom guilt aside and say, Hey, we're all human. And have those really great conversations with her about that now, you know, and the boys do and my, you know, all of us, it's just opened up a whole new realm. But yeah, no, no, no, there's a lot. There was a lot of mom guilt going on there. Why am I working? I gotta take time off work. Or you know why Here I am, a Superintendent of Education is taking too much time away from her. Oh, my goodness, I did suicide prevention training, like, oh, yeah, you want your baby in your arms, and you don't want anything, of course, all of us the very, very best. And when these things happen, it takes a toll on everyone. But yeah, finding your way is really difficult. And no one should be alone. supports like the groups that you offer, the support groups that you offer, formal counseling, therapy, learning how to be present, learning how to be mindful Reiki, yoga, you know, there's all kinds of different ways that people are finding today. And no one should feel like they're alone. No one has so many of us out here ready to talk and share our experiences. And not saying this is what you should do. This is what I learned and you can take from it. What might matter to you, and ask different questions pertaining to your own child and your own situation.

Danielle Bettmann 22:26
Exactly. Yeah. Because you're gonna look at it for and hear what you need to hear today. And you know, take that with a grain of salt and then be able to take the next right step for your healing journey. Yep, I agree 100%.

Danielle Bettmann 22:54
So, big emotions from Little People are running the show at your house. Is that right? Do they fall apart when something doesn't go their way? Just once, why can't they accept the fact that the answer is no. Am I right? The struggle is real. You're not alone, and you're in the right place. When your days are filled with relentless push back, it is so hard to feel like a good parent, especially when you're in laws aren't shy and sharing how they think your kids just need a good spanking. Every time you lose it, when they lose it, you feel like a failure. The worst part is, without addressing the root of your child's behavior, you're doomed to play a fruitless game of Whack a Mole reacting rather than preventing the next conflict. And next time, nothing's gonna go differently. The good news is, when you have a handful of effective discipline tools in your pocket, you're able to step into full confidence as their parent, parenting actually becomes a whole lot easier. I promise. You're not failing them. You just need more tools. So if you have a tiny human who's full of love, and yet so so difficult, if you can only be so nice for so long. If you've tried everything and still feel defeated on the daily, I free class, authentic and unapologetic is for you. In this free training, I share five huge misconceptions in parenting strong-willed kids that inadvertently invite defiance for mistaken goals. They're using their behavior to meet and what to do about it. How to let judgment roll off your back and truly feel like the parent your kids need and why what you're currently doing just isn't working and isn't going to anytime soon. So go to parenting To access this exclusive free training immediate We that's parenting, the link will be in the show notes.

Danielle Bettmann 25:23
And if you could look back and say, here are some of the big lessons or concepts that I learned along the way, once I started doing that work on myself and, you know, going to counseling and looking back at my own childhood, I know one of the things that you had shared with me before was that you felt like, you looked back and realized you were enabling her fears and worries, what does that look like?

Lynn McLaughlin 25:49
Yeah, that's a great question. And I have five answers going through my mind, but I'm gonna go to having to save the day. Oh, honey, it's all mobile, blah, you know, no, no, and giving her the answers to the problems. Hey, why don't you try this? Are you Why don't you try that? Oh, my goodness, that can't remember the name of the woman who tells it. But anyway, I will think about her. I will tell you her name in a moment. But she tells the story of you know, her son falls into a well, right. I wish I'd have heard this before. I love this. And I'm gonna look up her name and give it to you for sure. And even her podcast link, because she has the credit for this. Yeah, I'll sure. And she tells it so much better. But what I would have done, if my son fell on the wall, I grabbed a rope and didn't break down there with them. Right? But what's the message that you send to that child at the bottom of the well, the 10 year old the 11 year old that they can't handle it? Right? So she says, Oh my goodness, she's just says it's so much better than I do. But she says, Take a look. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, and then looks down the well and says I see it's dark. And it's scary down there. But I'm here for you. Tell me what you need. I know you can figure this out, giving that child some validation. I know you can figure this out. And you want me, I'm here. And if that child asks for help, then they've asked for help because they need help. And then you're they're like, look, no problem. You're throwing that rope down, you're pulling them out. But maybe they take two steps. Maybe they figure out two potential plans, and they get out of the well. What What have you learned? First of all, I have confidence in my child to be able to handle this, but you sent them a message that they can now celebrate that they fell into a well and figured it out. And they did it all by themselves. And if I think about that analogy now, analogy, that story, however you want to say it I think oh my gosh, if I'd have thought that way, when my kids were younger, then okay, what just happened? Let's talk about if that happens again? And what could we do differently? And then modeling the problem solving activity rather than flying in to try to calm the volatile situation? That's what I would do differently? Absolutely. I

Danielle Bettmann 27:58
would do differently. And just find the name.

Lynn McLaughlin 28:01
I did Tori Henderson. Okay. Tori Henderson, and the podcast interview was called How to avoid falling down the parenting. Well, she's amazing.

Danielle Bettmann 28:11
Gotta save, we will link that in the show notes. Thank you, I'm impressed that you can multitask during our conversation and find that because I would not have been.

Lynn McLaughlin 28:20
But it's not a video makes a difference. That's true.

Danielle Bettmann 28:22
That's true. So the another way that you put that was my need to save her was the opposite of helpful. Yes. But what was your thoughts that made you of course, it was coming from good intentions, right? You weren't setting out to harm her make things worse. So what did you believe? Or what was your mindset at the time that led you down that path?

Lynn McLaughlin 28:44
You know, we were thinking about it. We didn't know some things until we started to go into school. So what was I thinking at the time that she was a volatile child? That Wow, holy mackerel, does she have big emotions, and we're going to have to figure this out. So she can go and calm herself and find a way to calm herself every day. And when she had those blow ups, I had to find a way to keep the boys and everybody else calm. And if that was the priority, who here we go again? Here we go again. You know, I think that's what it was. It was just let's get through this. And then you just carry on the rest of the evening. Okay, we got through it. We got through it. But there's much more that was needed back then, to help her and help the boys understand how all of us understand. I now know after going to start to talk to teachers and you said it in one of your interviews I listened to is oh, what? Pardon me? She's having trouble. What? No problems at school, except that she wasn't going to the bathroom during the day. So that anxiousness that she had developed, you know, all day long. Am I safe? Am I safe? Am I safe? And she came home to her safe place. And that's what we had. We figured that out by the time she was nine or 10 and then work through all of the things we needed to do. But yeah, that's where we were back then. I think it was just okay. Let's Yeah, wow, she's got big emotions. And now I wonder if she's an empath. I don't know how many people believe in people who are empaths. But I really do believe she is, and so sees things from a very, very different way driven by emotions. And, yeah, different topic. Oh, yeah.

Danielle Bettmann 30:15
But very relevant to this podcast and the listeners that you know, find themselves here struggling with their child with usually very big emotion. So they're all yours, their advice that you have in retrospect, and it's survival mode, it's, you know, two inches away from your face, it is just trying to get through the moment, the day, you aren't able to zoom out, see the big picture, realize the patterns or get ahead of things in order to prevent or be proactive or eliminate for the future. So that tomorrow goes differently. It's just, you're always one step behind. And for the most part, you know, unless you have true support to be able to do that, it's very hard to realize those things until it is years later, and you've been able to maybe get out of the baby toddler stage with a sibling, or really be able to realize that they're so different than another sibling. And this must truly be unique to them, and what is going on and you know, be able to dig in a lot deeper, but they don't come with a manual, they don't come with little instructions printed out. For you to be able to read and figure out from day one. So get the struggle is real. And of course, understandably, you found yourself there, you know, finding solutions, finally, around nine or 10.

Lynn McLaughlin 31:38
Mm hmm. Yeah, survival mode, you're right. And let's be real, our life isn't just about being home with a child. There's all these other things happening at the same time that are calling our attention, right? So you're multitasking here, you there you whatever, and then this happens, and it's pulled out, I gotta get back to and you know, that is the most important thing in that moment. In that half hour in that 40 minutes, whatever it is, is to help your child through that time to have a better understanding of, you know, a four year old isn't going to be able to say, they might say, I'm mad, I'm angry. Can they identify why maybe you could help them? What just happened that made you feel let's talk about that? You know, next time you get you're angry? Well, we'll try this strategy. Yeah, no, we use the word strategy with a four year old. Let's try this. And model it for them start to model these things around your house, and they pick up on it. So it's not just, you know, reading a book or having them listen to music or an audiobook or whatever you do. It's when we model it for them. They can also learn that way. So yeah,

Danielle Bettmann 32:45
yeah, even just like the little moments of I'm so frustrated, this technology, and my phone is not working right now. And just being able to put words to that and label that emotion and then the plan of how you're going to take care of either the problem or just your own emotions. And, you know, okay, I'm gonna set it down, and I'm gonna come back in two minutes, I'm gonna set a timer, whatever it is, just saying it out loud is hugely influenced like so sponging that up. Definitely modeling is huge.

Lynn McLaughlin 33:13
Yeah, sure is. So in the end, I just want to say once I backed off once I set the boundaries of where I was. And when I was going to be there to I was I was always there. I mean, always there crises or whatever. I mean, we were past that stage, by then. And she found her way. And she found her way. She refused therapy. She said, and this is her perspective, everyone. So I don't ever want to suggest that counseling and therapy or formal medicine, they all have a part for sure, for sure, for sure. But for her, she got to the point where she could identify her triggers. And working out at the gym, going for walks in nature, cycling, is what helped her to become grounded and more aware of herself and find success. That girl got on a plane and flew to Indonesia, and is on a one year teaching contract. And who was more afraid for her me up. He's doing fabulously well. And she has figured it out. I had to back off.

Danielle Bettmann 34:08
Good luck off. Oh, that's huge. That's so cool. And I love that perspective of being able to kind of have that knowing how it all panned out being able to talk about those, you know, years, much prior to that. Here at failing motherhood. I always ask every guest somehow, like, have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood? And one of the things you wrote in was I blamed myself for failing her as a child. What were some of those thoughts or just overall feelings? And when was that kind of at its peak?

Lynn McLaughlin 34:40
Well, I think I've spoken a lot about why I felt I failed. I didn't see the signs, the trauma that she experienced through the physical illness, and she was in the hospital more than once, not just once, right that means so I shared one experience with you, but when was that at his peak? Oh, I would say when And then we got the formal assessment. And I wish we'd have done it sooner the formal assessment which led to child counseling, which helped her which helped us, which she says today that didn't help her at all that I mean, hey, it helped us anyway, regardless, because we got to speak, you know, about what are some things that we can put in place and be united? That's a hard part to write because parents see things in different ways. So I think that was the peak. Well, that was the peak until the later years when, you know, when she was in her 20s. And that was a different time period. But yeah, I think that was the peak of my mom guilt when she was a child.

Danielle Bettmann 35:33
Because then you might not have known how maybe bad things were or that there was a lot of potential and possibility for change. And you know, hope. And then once you finally got it, and then was able to turn it around, then that's when you have the perspective to say, Oh, I wish I would have done this sooner. Oh, I wish I would have known Oh, my gosh, how different that things could have gone the last few years. But you didn't know you didn't know.

Lynn McLaughlin 36:01
That's what it comes down to. Yeah, yeah. And we didn't talk back then. Right. I mean, I can tell you right now that the adults that I hang with who have kids in their 20s and 30s. Wow, lots of our families, people in our families have had struggled with their mental health. We didn't start talking about it till five, six years ago, where there's your support network, right there with people you love. It's all about the judgment and everything. And it's becoming so much easier because of podcasts like yours, and people speaking openly about it. And, you know, pick up that phone dropped by have a surprise, visit coffee with someone you think, hey, something's a little off with my friend, I'm gonna go check on this person, check on people. Yeah, you might be the change that they need, you might be the one to open the door that they desperately want to talk to you about it, but they don't know how to start the conversation.

Danielle Bettmann 36:49
Yes, that judgment, I'm glad you brought that up. Because that's a big deal in being able to not only realize what's going on, except what's going on in your own home, and then be able to ask for help and seek out those resources and feel okay, doing that. But then you might have even be doing that and still feel really alone and still feel like you can't tell anyone that you know you're seeing someone or that your child's getting on medication or whatever is going on. There's a whole lot of meaning that you make when you explain that story in your head based on the way that you were conditioned, or the modeling of what you grew up with. And I know that was a piece of your journey was being able to realize, right, the reason why you were controlling, came back from you know, even your childhood. So what does that kind of full circle look like from what you were doing based on what was done to you? Okay,

Lynn McLaughlin 37:40
yeah, my father was a musician in a band and traveling all the time. And from the time I was nine years old, that's when I remember polishing his shoes. And, you know, he was performing locally, but then, you know, it was to the United States was across, and it just became, he was more and more absent. And eventually, my parents separated and divorced. But I was the oldest with three younger siblings. My mom went to work, she had to leave early in the morning. And it wasn't at nine years old that I was helping with those kinds of things. But I became what's a parental education is not the word that people are using today. There you go. So I just had to be there. For her. It was just what I was. And, you know, even today, you know, oh, my gosh, even today, I still get questions from people say, We know you'll go talk to them yourself. No, no, I am not the mediator. You know, like, not necessarily my siblings, but it's just yeah. So you know, digging back to find out why really helped, because then I could say, wait a minute, that's a totally different situation. Now, this is not the same thing. But it certainly helped with me identify or drawing those lines in the sand of what I should be doing and not doing. And that was actually through a 12 week meditation course, where we did some of that deep dive, as well as part of the reflections. Okay. Yeah, it was very telling,

Danielle Bettmann 38:53
because you and you realize that it's not you, and being an inherently bad flawed person. And it's something like external that influenced you that once you become aware of it, you have more power over and you have a choice of what to do about it. And then you can make a different choice or kind of override that to learn a new way of looking at it, or a new way of explaining it, or new way of reacting in the moment. But without that awareness. You just do what you've always done without really thinking about it. lounder Yeah, and that's a really helpless place to be because then it feels like it's all outside of your control. And that's when we start to really spiral or try to control things. I know I can relate to your story of your daughter kind of rejecting that help and realizing later on in life that she needed to she's the only person that could save herself essentially, from that relationship. My husband was a functional alcoholic for several years of our early marriage when we had like two Three year old daughter's. And I went to the Al Anon the family support group for families of alcoholics. And that's really what they teach there is like to step back, detach and kind of, you know, get that a measurement of that codependence out there and realize that you are only responsible for you. How are you taking care of yourself? What boundaries? Do you need to protect your own well being? And how can you lovingly let this person you know, be empowered enough to make good choices for their own life. And it's terrifying, to let your loved one's well being be just up to them when they're so hurting?

Lynn McLaughlin 40:41
I'm so sorry that you had to go through that and your children as well. I guess the question always comes up, what's the line in terms of when do I help? And when do I back off? And I was asked that once and I thought there's no one answer, because every one is different. But if you can, you know, if you know your child well enough to know, when they're crossing that line into whatever is becoming debilitating to their daily life, or it's a crisis, that that's the line. Other than that, it's let you know, letting them fall, letting them take risks, letting them get back up again, and celebrating the fact that they try that we start doing that building that emotional intelligence when they're little, then we were, I dream of a world of empathy, like the world united through empathy and empathetic people. It's possible. It's possible if we teach our children at a very young age to do so possible, but hard because we have to learn it ourselves. And look what's around us in the world right now. Do you shut all that off? So it's conscious choices? It's conscious decisions? How much do I let in and how much do I respond to? And how much do I say? I'm gonna go on there? That's not easy.

Danielle Bettmann 41:54
That's exactly No, not easy at all. No, that's the mind game, that parents have kids with big emotions and struggles and anxiety and everything else that they have going on. They are constantly overthinking, worried, you know, anxious, maybe guilty, maybe the permissive maybe backing off maybe detaching maybe going like overbearing, right. Like there's all these coping mechanisms and reactions to feeling helpless and feeling like moments are out of control with your child. And you know, we all maybe respond to them instinctually in a different way. But that's why I'm sure that you felt like things shifted, once you yourselves as parents got support from, you know, the psychologists and being able to meet and being able to better understand, okay, what is the best way to maybe respond when she's really floundering, and having a kind of a more clear answer, or just more clarity, because that's what gives you confidence. And then when you have that vibe, then that's what her as you know, a big feeling Empath picks up on, and it might have been completely in perceptive, or, you know, unperceived that's not a word, perceived by her for me in a way where she could be like, yep, that psychologist said, you know, they really made a big difference. But it was all because it was subtle shifts in the culture of your home and just the way that you felt like things were a lot more manageable, maybe, you know, in those moments long term, because you had some perspective.

Lynn McLaughlin 43:32
And the other piece to that is we learned about to be more proactive. So if I knew we knew, we always you know, we're going to be doing this today is going to be this afternoon, you want to pick out your clothes, I'll help you pick out your clothes. So you start to leave the timelines bedtime we have the same routine it was actually written down and she would at some points go and look at it. Oh, it's time for this is time for this is time for this is time for this same thing. If we were new, we're going someplace new and we prepped her ahead of time, gave her choices, choices, right choices are so huge, because then they and the choices you give them are choices you can live with. Here's your two choices, and she's going to pick one she has control. She's made a decision, she's moving on, going into places where there were large crowds, okay, if that's gonna happen, well, we're gonna be together, we're gonna stand on the sidewall so you can see everything around you, you know. So that was a big piece because then we could do things to help lessen her feeling of anxiousness because she knew what was going to happen. It's not always the case, right? Life happens. But that really helped really, really helped. She had a quiet place to go to anytime she wanted to where she could write, listen to music put on whatever I mean, and that was good for her to to ground herself and learn to calm herself as opposed to me flying in to do it for her. Yeah, so the proactive peace with that counseling was huge for us in much better understanding. Yeah,

Danielle Bettmann 44:53
sounds like you really hit on like some of those go twos that I am always telling my clients of offering those up. attorneys for power and control back and being able to front load, your expectations, your agenda and your schedule in ways that given the runway to wrap their mind around it because they are slow to warm up and really just needing to be it feel like life is on its way to them rather than happening to them and blindsiding them and having pictures schedules, visual routine, that charts things like that are huge game changers.

Lynn McLaughlin 45:27
I love the way you frame that as a beautiful way to say it. Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann 45:32
It's what I do.

Lynn McLaughlin 45:34
And I think wrapping our heads where we used to think something was disrespectful, there's a purpose for that behavior. And this is the educator and me speaking now to write every behavior has a purpose. And sometimes it's really hard to figure out, you know, sometimes it's the lighting of the room or a sound that we can't hear or something off in the distance, I don't know. But to try to figure out why that is happening. And then help us work through it, help them work through it is huge. And so what we think is disrespectful, could very well be just our child saying but I see it this way. Hello, I see it this way. And we need to listen might say I agree to disagree or whatever word you want to choose. But you know, obviously thinks a different way. Today I'm in charge, you know, today we're gonna, whatever, but to give them a voice, because both

Danielle Bettmann 46:14
those things can coexist. Like they can want ice cream at the zoo. And you didn't bring money for ice cream at the zoo. Both of those things are true. Exactly. Yeah. You're entitled to their opinion. And it's not personal. It's more about the ice cream than any like, you got it. Yeah, but it's not easy to piece that apart in the moment, it's not easy to remind ourselves of those things, especially if no one has really been able to make that make sense for you and bring that into those moments. Your brain jumps to conclusions and assumptions and explains it to you in a way that makes sense based on your past and the way that you were parented. And that's not going to be the most, you know, compassionate explanation. No.

Lynn McLaughlin 46:58
And you know, once you start to identify like one thing you want to start to change, and it becomes a habit, it then starts to become a routine and they take the next step and the next step and the next step. Right and sooner. Before you know it, you're off and running. And you have to get rid of that old way of thinking and those old behaviors that are in young grayned in you. It takes time, the baby steps lead to huge, huge outcomes, and really do.

Danielle Bettmann 47:22
Yes. So is there anything that when given kind of a pedestal platform that you know, you know, you have a audience of moms with, let's say, four year olds, and you know, you just want to give them a smoother path than you had forward? What would you want to tell them?

Lynn McLaughlin 47:42
Oh, hey, they're listening to you right now, Danielle, they're learning. They're part of a community. If they're not already, they might become part of the community, ask the questions. Nobody's perfect. Nobody has all the answers, get the gals together, what's working for you try some different things. And yes, some things won't work and some things will work. But really is who is that little person in there? And what are they trying to say to you, and if you can find a way to understand, you know, what is being said, and why then you can kind of find a way to support them and use it as teachable moments. That's what I was, and I go back to my daughter's illness to just have eyes on that. And now we know it's not new. But you know, it was new for me that those experiences when they're little little, little people can, they're traumatic, and they've got to be dealt with, they've got to be resolved.

Danielle Bettmann 48:30
And that our understanding as a society of children is constantly evolving, right? Like, it's gone a long ways in the last 100 years, from our understanding of, you know, a child being an empty slate to a child being more like a sponge and a child, you know, having their own personality and nature versus nurture, and, you know, all those things, but we still have a lot of work to go to create a more generalized mainstream narrative that is really respectful, mutually respectful of kids, and giving them a lot more benefit out, giving them a lot more understanding and respect in, you know, the medical field, but you know, everywhere as well. So, you know, if that's not the norm where you get your care, then you have to advocate for your child and know that you have every right to do that. And they need you to do that.

Lynn McLaughlin 49:22
Absolutely. 100% agree. Yeah.

Danielle Bettmann 49:24
I'm glad Oh, no, we have like child life specialists, and some, you know, some people in our local area that are really working well to create more, you know, ways for kids to be able to cope with those hard things, but those are the ages. And it's important. It's really important.

Lynn McLaughlin 49:39
Yes, it absolutely is. And, you know, being proactive, teaching them teaching them before their age of 10. And then if they have five things that are in their little basket to pull out when they're faced with the situation, they can pull it something that works for them. Right. So

Danielle Bettmann 49:51
Yes. So tell us more about some of the resources that you have created.

Lynn McLaughlin 49:56
Okay, so the you know, I think I mentioned earlier that I'm a walker. So I was out walking one day and everything was going really well. We were through crises thing was going fantastically. And I called my niece who was taking her Master's at the time and social work at the local university. And I said, Honey, will you write a children's book series with me? And she was so taken aback. But yeah, let's do it. So that was two years ago. And so we have, oh, my gosh, and our Illustrator is a high school graduate who just took our books to it. And we created this fictitious planet, we call it Tesla, where the childlike beings glow in the color of it feeling because they don't know how to manage their emotions yet. So we're taking kids to a planet where they can all everybody finds a place, it doesn't matter if you're angry, happy, sad, frustrated, worried, it's just part of who you are as a child on Tetra. And then we named all the characters after crystals, because every crystal is unique. And there's a characteristic around crystal that is healing and etc, etc. But every book has it clinically based strategies. The first book is called I have choices. And Zarco is one of the main characters flies out at recess, because they fly on this planet, and saints, the kids playing a game. I'm not good at that. And then the mind started to go. And one of the adult characters comes in and teaches the strategy of I have choices. And that sounds really easy. I have a choice. No, because what we typically do and what our kids do is, it's this, or that I could play that game, or I cannot play that game. And the book teaches them up, wait a minute, take a look bla bla bla bla bla. And by the time the book ends, Zirkel has five or six different choices, and then turns green is confident again, and off they go making choices. And just to say, you know, it's to teach them that it's not just black and white, it's not just this or that there are other options. That's one book, the book that just is coming out this week is you know, though you can't sleep at night, because your mind is going crazy. And we teach them deep breathing. Another one is using your senses, the book that's coming out, I'm so excited about this one is teaching kids how to ground themselves using the elements of earth, wind, fire and water. Hmm, yeah. So these are all clinically basically, if you go to therapy, when you're 15 years old, these are some of the things that they're going to teach you. So we've just taken aback and simplistic childlike language and a fun, fun, fun place. And then this is me, the educator, there's an educational package that one of the questions to ask before during it after. And then we have these fun little cartoons that kids can actually use to apply them to their own life, what happened to me today that I could use I have choices for so that they can learn it, and it becomes intrinsic in them because reading the book is great. And that works for certain ages. But as kids get older, they can start to apply these strategies and teach them and what I should have realized, because I learned them myself, as I was working with my niece is grandmas and moms and older siblings, were saying, Hey, this is kind of really cool. I'm not going to tell anybody younger. And that's really, right. Yeah, we're teaching everyone these things. So it's been really fun. And now we're talking in schools and communities and about it, we're about to launch virtual as well, because we want to meet it, you're gonna reach as many people as we can. And it's just been a blast. And I have a podcast too. In my next three guests are nine year olds, and they're talking about what works. One of them is a young man who does Reiki on himself. So we learning with and from them. Oh, so cool. Yeah. And it's let's try to get as many kids as we possibly can. Now, the tools before they're 10 years old, and they can practice and learn. And they've got something in their bucket to pull from as they grow older. And this, as I said, very complex world. So thanks for the question.

Danielle Bettmann 53:33
Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I will link all the resources and ways to look into your books and buy those books in the show notes. And thank you, for all that hard work, they are so needed. And I'm excited when anything like that comes into the world because our kids need every leg up they can to be able to be on the front end of learning some of this before we all have when we're in our 30s 40s 50s and beyond. So how can moms connect with you after this episode?

Lynn McLaughlin 54:05
Yeah, everything's on Everything is there my blog, my podcasts, my books, the parent communications or email me directly? Lynn at Lynn Okay, and I will try to get back to you within 48 hours. My goal is always my goal. Here Yeah, I am retired and working part time now and for my business, so I mean, it's okay, I have more time than you do.

Danielle Bettmann 54:27
Keep those boundaries for you. Yep. And the last question I asked every guest when they come on is how are you the mom your kids need?

Lynn McLaughlin 54:37
Oh, today I'm here when they need me. I check on them. Of course. My kids are I'm in Ontario once in Nova Scotia ones in Indonesia, ones in Australia. So yeah, I wake up in the morning and who's taught because the six all the time zones is your future everybody okay, possibly. I don't know. I'm just here. I'm here when they need me on here when they just being here and knowing that they're loved and checking upon them and having conversations with them on a regular basis, and taking care of myself, I just have to have that peace. I know how to be grounded. Now. My walks are my, you know, I took Facebook off my phone, I limit social media, I put out what I think is important for the world. But I, you know, I just I make those conscious choices about what I'm letting in and what I'm letting out and I'm a healthier person, which means I can be What's that old expression, that glass is half full or half empty, I've as full as I possibly can be for me, which means I am for others as well. Take care of ourselves, everybody self compassion.

Danielle Bettmann 55:35
So needed, Oh, I love all these messages, we cannot hear them enough. We need constant reminders. And every time we hear it, it means something new in each season of a way that we can apply it. So thank you for being a voice for all of that thank you for being able to pour into us and we're in the trenches still and have the opportunity to be on the front end of prevention and being proactive rather than reactive or a lot of these things with our kids. God knows they need it. So thank you again for your time for all those resources and for your work in the future. You appreciate it.

Lynn McLaughlin 56:10
My honor. And my pleasure, Danielle, thank you for having me.

Danielle Bettmann 56:18
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms note they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you and cheering you on.




Tuesday, Sept 27th at 1:00 PM CENTRAL

Confidently parent your strong-willed child without caving in or dimming their spark so you can finally break free of power struggles, guilt + self-doubt!