Hey there and welcome to the podcast. I am so glad that you’ve joined me here today and I’m very excited about my guest. Camilla McGill and Camilla is a parenting coach and she empowers parents to really help raise their kids with compassion and boundaries and how to find peace in the home in ways that will help their kids to grow up to be confident and resilient and cooperative.

She’s the mom of four kids herself, so she has been in the trenches as a parent. She knows exactly what everyone is experiencing. And she’s been working with parents for over 20 years and she’s got online courses. She works one to one and she also has some group coaching programs. And so we’re going to put all of her links in the show notes as well as a really great freebie that I know you’re going to want to get your hands on, especially after this conversation.

So welcome. Thank you so much for being with me. That’s a pleasure, Anne. It’s just so you know, it’s Camilla, but I’m so sorry. Sorry, Americans often have trouble with pronouncing.  It’s Americans. We put the accent in the wrong syllable. I’m so sorry. Camilla. So, we are going to talk today about just the effect of Negative attention and kind of this thing that happens with little kids and parents and how kids want to get their parents attention and how they learn how to get their attention in negative ways.

First of all, can you just kind of talk about that, kind of define what that is and what it looks like? Yes. So we must remember, and this was a big revelation for me, is that they are designed, and you would know this Anne, children are designed to get our attention from the get go. That’s why they cry.

It’s what we find as they, you know, turn from baby to toddler, that they realize it’s quicker to, well, they don’t necessarily realize this consciously, but we give them. attention quicker to something negative. Because what will happen is they may be quietly sitting on the floor, playing with their cars, and we don’t pay very little attention to them.

And then we might send a text, we might put the laundry on, we might, you know, write an email. And then they’re missing attention. There’s a need there for it. So they will hurl the car across the room, at which point we’ll say, don’t do that. Look at that. You could have smashed the door or, you know, you’re going to ruin your car.

And that’s quick. It’s super quick. The other thing is they don’t distinguish between positive and negative attention. So they just want the attention, but it’s quicker to get the negative. We think, well, hold on, why would they throw a car across the room, which gets us scolding them instead of doing something that we like?

Well, because so often they are doing things that we like and we fail to hone in and notice it. And actually we’re sort of designed for that. So we’re designed to respond to. Sort of danger. That’s why we will over, will instantly react when we see something that’s, you know, like the throwing that we consider as dangerous.

So that’s why it comes about. And it is a question for us, which takes an enormous amount of our own self will is to train ourselves to catch the good. And no matter how small. And that’s really hard too. So, you know, they might have thrown the car across the room and we might actually say, do you know what?

You were just playing with your cars and you had them and look, you’ve lined them all up and you threw that one across the room and I know you were agent because so often they don’t mean to, it’s not premeditated.  How about you go and you pick it up and, and say they’ve knocked the plant pot off the table at the same time.

Then we would say, well, you know, let’s get a brush and a pan and you hold the pan. I’ll use the brush and we’ll clear up the mess so we can get them to make amends. But we’ve all equally, we’ve caught the good, which was that they were playing quietly in the first place. Right. I like that because you’re really saying focus on what the good that they were doing and then, Oh yeah, you threw it.

Let’s, let’s take care of that. But let’s really, let’s really look at the fact that you were lining these up and made it this really interesting design or pattern with the colors and all of those kinds of things. Yeah. And I think what will often get confused with a kind of compassionate approach to parenting is that you let everything go.

You know, it’s like, well, if we’re not focusing on the negative, that means that we’ve ignored all the bad behavior. And I will say, no, no, you don’t completely ignore it, but don’t hone in and scold and expect a child to learn from that, hone in and help them make amends, hone in and show compassion. They were probably a bit bored and, or, or is it just an impulse?

Right. So the compassion might be kids are impulsive. They do stuff they don’t mean and it didn’t shoot at the plant pot. It just happened over, um, but you need to say that they can’t make amends. And there’s a really big difference between sort of scolding them to make them feel shame. And having them take responsibility and maybe even feel a little bit of remorse.

You know, that’s a big difference because shame goes in the identity. I’m bad. Remorse is, I made a mistake.  Right. I’m not a bad child for doing that.  You know, I’m sitting here thinking even just about. School, you know, like you take a, a math test and you get eight out of 10, correct.  And we look at those two that you got wrong rather than the eight that you got right.

And it’s, it’s kind of that same thing. It’s just kind of really where you put, put your focus. Yeah. And those two that you get wrong, you figure out went wrong. You figure out what you did wrong, where the mistake was.  This podcast is really for. Infants and toddlers, parents of, of really young kids. So at what age would you suppose that babies even begin to figure this out, this, this way of getting attention from their parents?

Oh, that’s such a good question. I mean, you probably know more about the early stages of development than I do, Anne, but I think, you know, when they will start to screech,  which, when would you say that might be around about seven, eight months, would you say? Something like that?  Yeah, I think seven, nine, ten months.

Yeah, something like that. When they’re really beginning to learn that they have a voice that you’re going to respond to. I mean, they get that early. Oh, sick. But it’s, yeah, yeah. And they will have a little glint, won’t they? You know, they’ll, they’ll screech, and we’ll say, no, shh.  And then they’ll screech again, and we’ll respond again.

Yeah. So it’s probably starting from that very early age. Right.  Very hard. I was watching a mother with a baby recently and it was terribly hard for her not to respond. And the other thing, he was a little bit older than that. I’d say he was probably 12 months. We were on a transfer bus from a plane. And he was just really screeching and the mother, good on her, just ignored it.

And I know that people around her were expecting her to scold him for it, but he stopped after a bit. So, yeah, I, I’d say it’s probably, it’s those sorts of things. They’ll screech, they’ll bang, and we instantly show the attention to it, which is like, Oh, this is good, you know, and they’ll do it again. Yeah.

And, you know, I think oftentimes even we, we inadvertently encourage it by laughing at something that is inappropriate. You know, I’m thinking like in that bus, you know, a kid who screams really loud and the, and you laugh at it, it just says, Oh, do that again. Let’s get another, because I really like it when my parents, you know, I can remember once we went out to eat, when my daughter was, uh, I don’t know, she was maybe four 15 months or something and she had the loudest scream.

She just had such a loud scream. We were in this restaurant is a pretty small place and she let loose a loud shriek and literally the whole restaurant got quiet and looked over.  It was like, you know, what do you do? I mean, that’s, that was not an unhappy screech. That was a happy screech. She’s just happy, happy to be here.

And then we just kind of shrugged our shoulders and everybody started talking again.  It was funny.  So, what would be some examples of some differences between a negative and positive response? Like, let’s say your kid is just whining and clinging and hanging on your leg.

What would be some comparison of responses?  Well, you know, it comes a bit back to the scolding and the interpretation that we give the whining. First of all, it is developmentally completely  Appropriate that a kid will, will whine. But if we react to the whining with anger or showing our frustration or scolding them,  it’s not going to help them to change it.

So what we will, if, when we’re feeling unresourceful and, uh, you know, so often just exhausted at the end of our, we might say things like, just whine. Stop whining at me. Just, you know, I’ve had enough of this. What’s that awful, awful whining that you’re using? And if we were going to be more resourceful about it, we could use a bit of humour.

So we could say something like, do you know, there’s a really strange noise coming here. I don’t know who it is. It’s definitely not Henry. And then you might use a slight of hand, which is something that I’ll always recommend for the little ones. You know, it might be, yeah. There’s something I forgot to tell you, or, look, was that a funny blue bird in the sky?

And you might actually just say to them, let’s try using your normal voice. And if they haven’t reached that crescendo, when they’re sort of beyond rational thought.  Um, then they might well giggle and they might well sort of say, can I have a, you know, can I have some juice? The other thing that we will often do is say, so they’ll whine and we’ll sigh and we’ll, but we’ll give them the juice.

So that kind of rewards the whining. We can stay calm and say something like, you know, Oh, I don’t think that was Henry speaking. Let’s see if you can use your normal voice. And they said, can I have some juice? Well, that’s much better. Let’s see the really normal voice. Who’s going to have some juice? Yes.

I’m going to get you the juice. Here it is. So we’re sort of gradually helping them and training them to, even though the wine might still happen, but the wine doesn’t get what you want. Right. Because the wine is really communicating an emotion.  Communicating an emotion. Absolutely. So you may address the emotion.

Right. Yes. And that’s a large part of my, my work is helping parents to see what’s behind stuff. There’s sometimes whining is just habit. Right. Yeah. And sometimes it really is communicating something else. So then  I might say, I know you’re really upset, Because you wanted the blue cup and I gave you the red cup  and that’s, that’s the emotion.

And then you might say, you could ask me and I’ll see if I can find the red cup. Or you could might say, and it’s just not here. It’s we left it at grandma’s house. Remember that I can see that you’re really disappointed and that’s why you want the red cup.  You didn’t like the blue cup. So yeah, that’s looking at the emotional cause of the.

Yeah. And that really is the exasperating part of, of parenting is the red cup, blue cup.  It’s just, we’ve got to remember that. Our children’s emotional world is very different from ours and we can so easily dismiss it and say Juice tastes the same whatever color the cup is but for them that’s rational for them For whatever reason There’s some kind of comfort in the blue cup.

Maybe it reminds them of their quilt or their train or something. To them is important. And we really help ourselves as parents. Parents will tell me all the time that one of the biggest Big part of the way that I’ve helped them is that they’ve been able to stand in their children’s shoes more. They see the world from their child’s perspective, not from their own interpretation.

And that helps them respond more compassionately and, you know, maybe a little bit more gently because they’ve understood that to their child with his temperament or her temperament, it is important. They are upset, they are disappointed, they can’t see that, you know, the world won’t end if they’ve got a color card.

You know, that’s kind of how I feel about my coffee mug.  I have a favorite coffee mug. And if I have to drink coffee out of a different mug, It just doesn’t feel the same to me, you know, in a way I can, I can totally relate to the red cup, blue cup thing.  So how do you help parents who really were programmed from their own childhood to yell or to respond to?

a negative behavior in a way that they don’t want to respond that way, but it’s just what rises up in the moment. Yeah. Yeah. I think when I do, uh, my first consultation with parents, I’ll often make them aware of the imprinting that they had no idea was there. And actually just explaining that. will often give parents a really big sense of relief that it’s not their fault.

They, and it wasn’t their parents fault either. And it was probably, you know, how their parents felt. raise them. But there is also, with the knowledge that we have now, with the openness to coaching and kind of learning about being a parent, we can interrupt those patterns. We can change the way we respond to our children.

We don’t have to.  I’ll often talk, many years ago, I worked with an organization that ran a, Stephen Covey. He wrote the seven habits of my liver and I was one of their coaches. And he says, between stimulus and response, we are able to press pause. Animals can’t, but as humans, we are able to press pause. So, you know, the stimulus  a child whining or a, you know, a child stamping their feet or a child hurling something across the room.

And our innate imprinting is to shout.  With insight and with some practice and a will, we can press pause or we can press rewind. So what often when I’m working with parents, we’ll start  with actually them just doing a rewind. So the knee jerk is, you know, for God’s sake, and then they’ll go, okay, and I’ve done this myself.

I’m actually just going to walk out the room again, and I’m going to come back in, and I can see that you’ve spilled your juice all over the table. And I’m going to say, whoops, juice on the table. Let’s get a cloth. Here you go. You can wipe it up. And then with time and with insight and with practice, parents become what I call consciously competent.

And then they ultimately become unconsciously competent. So they don’t even realize that they didn’t yell, but with conscious competence, they might just stop the yell coming out. And the other way that I think is really helpful and I’ll often coach parents in this is to, and again, you’ll have to be able to press the pause button for even a few seconds,  run in your head.

What it sounds like when you let yell,  see your child’s face in response to it. And that’s not as a shaming tactic for a parent, but that’s just like, and also let’s think about the result that we want, because  if parents have got an openness to change, and if they’ve got, if they realize that, you know, there is this imprinting and, and how it affected them, and they don’t want to do that to their kids.

It can be really helpful to think, what result do I want? Do I want to release my stress by screaming? Which it does for a little bit, for a second, you know, a few seconds. We know, we’ll know what that’s like. You sort of feel a sense of self satisfaction when you’ve screamed, but then you’re left with a hollowness.

Right. And the other person has been damaged.  So, do I want to just simply release my own stress, or do I want to have an impact on my child that’s a positive one, and still help them learn if they have genuinely done something wrong? Mm hmm. The other thing is, I don’t know how many times out of ten, but there’s a lot.

It’s just us. You know, we could have had a really rotten day at work. We could have got stuck in a traffic jam. We could have gone to the grocery store and they were out of the lasagna that we were planning on serving for dinner. And we come back in With all that accumulated and our child whines and we shriek, God, you’re so ungrateful.

But it’s actually about the dominant, you know, that’s the dominoes from the rest of the day. It’s nothing to do with them. It’s not even what the child is doing at all.  And having that realization can really help. And again, we may do, we may still yell, but we could say,  Okay, I made a mistake. I’m just going to walk out the door and I’m going to come back in and I’m going to say do you know what, I know you really wanted lasagna and I, and I mean obviously a little three year old might not quite understand that but they might, you know, I’m sorry, it was supposed to be pasta and now it’s chicken  and that’s disappointing you.

It’s those different realizations that help us stop the yelling and it’s a practice. And the other thing is we can tell ourselves negatively,  I’m just a yeller, but actually that’s just going to perpetuate it. But if we could say I’m becoming a reformed yeller, or I’m learning to stay calm, we’re more likely to be more resourceful.

I’m the kind of parent who stays calm.  That’s right. I’m a parent. Just telling yourself that. Or even who can stay calm. That might be the first step. I’m a parent who is able to stay calm.  And having a little mantra around that can just help that pause button. Right. Yeah, I really love that. And just the making of reparation, I think is probably the, the one lesson that we all need, you know, with all of our relationships, but especially our, the relationships we’ve built.

That we have with our children. And of course it matters a whole lot in zero to three, but it matters all the way up for the rest of your life. You will be making reparations to your children for one thing or another. It is a really important tool to have in your back pocket, you know, to know how to do that.

As we wrap this conversation up, I just wonder if you have any, just last words of encouragement for those who might be listening and kind of sitting in this space of dealing with this sort of thing. I mean, I guess I’d say two things is be kind to yourself when, and especially if you haven’t met the standard that you wish to reach, be kind and forgive yourself because the worst thing we can do is sort of perpetually.

Beat ourselves up, compare ourselves to an unrealistic standard, you know, feel shame that we’re not reaching it. And the other thing is, use humor. Because I know you said like, you shouldn’t laugh if they’ve done something, you know, because it only encourages them. But equally, don’t take it too seriously.

Right. Because, you know, they’ll do things like, pour their yogurt onto the tray of their high chair and slap it so that it goes everywhere. And actually, that’s just funny. You know, we,  we think of all the ramifications that, you know, they, they haven’t eaten the yogurt so they’ll be hungry or it’s the yogurt’s expensive or, you know, now we’re going to have to wipe it all up.

But actually that’s just play. And they are. And we can, giggling with our children is just so precious.  It can lift the mood so quickly and  those moments are so glorious and actually. Children will, their connection with us is, as you know, it’s just so vital. And connecting over humor is just such a beautiful way to connect with them.

And, and actually the, all the evidence is that our connection is the most important way to help them learn and grow, not our scolding or punishment. God forbid. I mean, I’m, you know, probably like you, Anne, I’m just, you know,  So I want to steer parents away from the idea that they need to punish in order for their child to learn.

Try not to take everything too seriously. It’s like, it’s these moments, nought to three, you know, that, that’s the, well, we all know how quickly it goes. But it doesn’t mean to say that if we don’t correct at age three, they’re going to be age 18, you know, remand home or something. It’s just,  they’re still only little.

Genes that are older than these little people. Yeah. Yeah. So, and, and humor is just so precious. Yeah. I love that. Uh, humor is so connecting and, um, there’s just nothing better than a shared laugh with someone. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s great. Well, um, I know that you have a free gift for our listeners. Why don’t you tell us about that?

I do, I produced a great guide that is so popular.  It’s called how to get your kids to listen without ever having to, Americans say yell, so we say shout. But anyway, same thing, yell, nag, or threaten. Within it, I teach what I call my great method that I actually have in other forms that there’s a recorded workshop, there’s a video course available for purchase, but the printable guide is there and it walks you through and it’s just, it’s so incredible use, incredibly useful in any form of preparation for events that either are every day where you find yourself nagging and yelling.

Or something unexpected, you know, maybe it’s visiting auntie Jean, who’s pretty fussy about children climbing on her furniture or going to the doctor to get a shot or going on a journey where you need them to listen to you. It’s a method that you can, it’s kind of versatile. It’s just very helpful for parents.

So, uh, I know you’re going to drop the link in my, in the show notes and it’s. Also, my parenting solutions. com. I’ve got quite a few other things, uh, for me as well. Yes. I love your resource and I send people to you all the time.  So thank you so much for this. I think it’s going to be so helpful for those listening.

And I hope that you all will find Camilla and all of her amazing resources online. I know that she’s got lots to offer. Thanks so much, Camilla.