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SUMMARY- Join Carly and Vivek as they discuss the power of knowing you don't know, trusting your little one to know what they need, and self compassion. Vivek discusses his philosophy of non-coercive, collaborative parenting and how that looked in action over the past 24 years.

You can find Vivek by following on his page, Meaningful Ideas and also Gentle Parents Unite on Facebook or website.

Full Episode Transcript: 

Carly:
The Beyond Sleep Training Podcast- a podcast dedicated to sharing real tales of how people have managed sleep in their family outside of sleep training culture because sleep looks different with a baby in the house and because every family is different there is no one-size-fits-all approach to take.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which this podcast is being recorded, the Kalkadoon people, I pay my respects to the elders of this nation and the many other nations our guests reside in from the past, present and emerging. We honour Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and the unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, water and seas as well as their rich contributions to society including the birthing and nurturing of children.

Carly:
And welcome back to the Beyond Sleep Training podcast. I’m your host, Carly Grubb, and with me today is Vivek Patel, who’s coming to us all the way from Canada. It’s his evening time over there, so welcome Vivek.

Vivek:
Thank you. Happy to be here my friend.

Carly:
Now, Vivek is doing some amazing work in the space of conscious parenting. Would you say conscious parenting is the best way to describe?

Vivek:
Yeah. You know, I call it conscious parenting, gentle parenting, peaceful parenting. It’s kind of all those names. I actually these days have been calling it non-coercive, collaborative parenting because I find it’s more descriptive. It’s less catchy, but it’s more descriptive.

Carly:
I’ve actually got that written down because you are a parenting educator and you have developed this philosophy of non-coercive, collaborative parenting, and I’m really excited to hear how that has actually developed over your experience with your family. But I’ll be sure to drop into our show notes links to the work that you are doing online now for all of our listeners to follow along. Your page is Meaningful Ideas, and you also work with the Gentle Parents Unite group on Facebook.

Vivek:
That’s right.

Carly:
Is that right? Yeah.

Vivek:
Yeah, that’s correct. Yeah.

Carly:
Awesome. And so, Vivek, can you tell us, we’re here to talk about sleep with your family.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Could you let us know who is in your little crew?

Vivek:
For sure. It’s myself and my wife and my now 24-and-a-half year old daughter. And…

Carly:
Amazing.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
So, we’ll be tapping back into 24 years ago.

Vivek:
Yeah. My wife and I were reminiscing this afternoon in preparation actually.

Carly:
Oh beautiful. I’m really flattered to hear.

Vivek:
Yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
So, before you welcomed her into your family how did you and your wife plan to approach sleep with her? Was it something you’d discussed and thought out?

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. Well, we included sleep into the general philosophy that we wanted to… we wanted to work with with our kids. You know? Both of us grew up in very traditional, coercive households. And I’m from India, my wife is from Trinidad. So, those are both very discipline-heavy – discipline in the mainstream way of thinking of it – discipline-heavy cultures, and we wanted to do things differently. We wanted to do things radically differently, not just a little differently. You know? And I always say that conscious parenting, or gentle parenting like we were saying, is… is not traditional parenting done more gently, but it’s a whole different mindset. It’s a whole different paradigm, a whole different way of treating kids and looking at kids and looking at our relationship with them. And even 25 years ago we knew that there was something there. We didn’t know exactly what. There were no books really and there was no internet really, so we were just… we just knew we… what we… a lot of it we knew what we didn’t want to do and what we did want to do. I call it the don’t do and the do do. And… and so, we knew a lot about what we didn’t want to do. We didn’t want to force her to do anything. We didn’t want to punish her or control her in any way. And the do do was we really wanted to respect her autonomy and respect her wisdom about herself. I say her because she’s her. We didn’t know it was a her before though, right? And so, we had this whole… we had this whole idea that we were going to trust her process and trust her wisdom about herself. And so, we didn’t really know what was going to look like. We didn’t have a plan we’ll do sleep like this, and we’ll do food like this. It was kind of the opposite of having a plan as far as the practical side of it goes, but we had a philosophical plan. And, of course, my… when she came along that philosophy wasn’t so easy and wasn’t so rosy because I had no idea how complex and how challenging it would be to have this little, new… this little, new human in our… in our house. Right? I used to say my ideology is clashing with my reality.

Carly:
Yes. Yes. It’s all the best laid plans, isn’t it?

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Well, it’s not even a plan, but just how you imagine it’s going to be.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
So, even though you had, you’d decided that you wanted to just accept this baby as she came and… and go with her from there, but in your mind had you… did you still have some preconceived ideas about how a baby would sleep maybe?

Vivek:
Honestly, I’ll say that I didn’t really. I didn’t, because… [5:00] because I already knew that… I already knew at that point that every preconceived idea I had was imposed on me by a society and by media and by my own experiences that didn’t match up with what I really wanted. And I knew, I knew, I knew that the way that people viewed kids wasn’t… wasn’t accurate. I didn’t know what was going to come of it. 25 years later I have a much better idea, you know? And helping hundreds, actually thousands of people and seeing so many… I mean one of the benefits of being in Gentle Parents Unite - which right now we have 80,000 people in our… in our group, and a fantastic admin team – and one of the benefits is I’ve seen a sample size of thousands and thousands of people over many, many years asking questions and describing their problems and describing their struggles and how they’ve approached it and what has worked and what hasn’t worked, and the trying this stuff that I teach and watching that grow. But in the beginning I didn’t have any of that. Right? So, I think we… we were very conscious not to have preconceived motions… notions? Preconceived notions in the beginning. You know? I think I probably did have an idea about myself. Like, I thought I would be very calm and Zen-like all the time. I thought I would always be in this state where I was like this perfect guide. And that’s really where… where the struggle was for me, was me. It wasn’t really about anything that she did, and so… because we knew we didn’t know. I think that was one of the… one of the biggest fortune… good fortunes that we had in the early days; was we knew we didn’t know. And this is kind of what we based it on. Like, I knew I didn’t know, so I had to ask my kid what do you know? And this was the beautiful thing. The hard part was that she actually didn’t really want to sleep at nights. You know? And we… and we… we had to try so many different things to figure out what sleep was… was for her, because she would cry and cry and cry at night. And… and, you know, everybody was telling us in those days, leave her to cry, she’s going to get over it. And… and we just, we couldn’t, we couldn’t consider it. You know? But at the same time, like the crying would go on and on and on. So, what we ended up doing was we ended up over time slowly figuring out different things that helped her feel safe, helped her feel comforted, helped her feel our presence, and also trying to figure out, like intuitively, figure out what is it that’s… that’s causing the distress for her. Because there was a clear distress. And slowly, slowly, slowly we… we developed a routine. There was like one particular album that we played every single night for two years. You know, I still… it was a Tracey Chapman album. I think it was her second album, and I just… I still can’t listen to any songs from that album because we listened to it every day.

Carly:
Yep.

Vivek:
And… and… and a certain amount of bouncing, a certain amount of swinging and the exact way for her to fall asleep. And eventually we figured something out that worked for a time. But the biggest issue for us really in those days was the impact of… of not knowing and struggling with that in ourselves. You know? Because I would get really frustrated. I would feel like a failure. I would feel like… I would feel like she’s, you know, being like aggressive against me. Like, she just was like a baby not being able to sleep, but I was taking it really personally. You know? And all of those things…

Carly:
It’s hard to when you’re putting everything into it. Isn’t it?

Vivek:
That’s exactly it.

Carly:
You’re putting all these things, and it’s still not enough. It builds.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah. That’s exactly it. And so, I remember early on when somebody asked me what’s the hardest part of your… of your kid’s development? And I said the hardest of her development is my development. And…

Carly:
I love that. That’s true.

Vivek:
And so, but you know the thing is, like because I… again, because I had the fortune – I always I had the fortune, because I don’t know how I knew, but ever since I was very, very young I knew that I wanted to be a different kind of dad than what I experienced. You know? Because I grew up being spanked and punished, and then that kind of transferred into being bullied in junior high school. So, I was bullied in junior high school, bullied when I came home, and like my whole life was kind of like that. And I had to close off so many parts of myself, I never really got to learn who I was. I never got to learn a relationship with my body. I never got to learn about my mind and  my, you know, my sensory experiences and how my thoughts work and what… what was important to me and what my values were. I never got to learn any of that stuff until like, until I realised, like as an adult, as a young adult, that… that that stuff had been locked away from me and that I wanted to rediscover myself. And it’s like, I’ve been on the path of rediscovery for – I’m 52, so it’s been 32 years now. I think I was around 20 when I started to really want to rediscover myself. So, for my kid, you know, for me, well, the way I always thought about sleep was [10:00] not so much how do I get her to sleep? But how can I most nourish her relationship with sleep? This is the focus that we took. You know? I didn’t want to necessarily get her to do things. I always say there’s no let and no get in our relationship. I don’t let her do things in the sense that I never allowed myself to think I had the authority to let or not let her do things. And which is I know extremely radical from how most parents work with their kids. And I won’t even say how most parents work with their kids, how they’ve been told to work with their kids. That of course we have authority over our kids. Of course you have to tell them what to do. But we just refused. We just refused that authority. We had it, but we refused it. We had it meaning like we have systemic power. Right? All parents have systemic power over their kids. And it’s systemic because my saying for systemic is it’s power you didn’t choose and power you can’t refuse. So, we have financial power over them. We have emotional power over them. We have access to resources power over them. We can make them do stuff. We can make them feel bad and punish them and reward them to try and manipulate them. And we just thought let’s just not do that. And that was basically the extent of the philosophy in the early days. We’re just not going to do that. And, but we also were thinking like every decision was like, is this going to help her learn about her body and learn about sleep. You know? And learn about the impact of sleep on her body in a way that makes sense to her. You know? It wasn’t so much about… like, because a lot of… I hear a lot of the time parents say my kid is really grumpy the next day, so I have to get them to sleep. But then the process of getting them to sleep is so disconnecting and grumpy that you’re kind of sacrificing one grumpy for another grumpy. And… and I thought, well, if there’s going to be some grumpiness anyways, let’s… let’s focus the grumpiness on helping her have the deepest relationship with herself as possible. And that’s not something you can force. You can’t force someone to have a relationship with themselves. You can only nurture it and inspire it. And so, that’s the approach that we… that we took. And it was wildly chaotic and challenging, but the one thing we didn’t do is give up on the philosophy, even when I said my ideology is clashing with my reality all my friends would be like, ‘Oh, so you’re giving up on your ideology. Right?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m just going to work harder at it.’ Because I had real faith in it.

Carly:
Digging in.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Yeah. No, that’s amazing. And so, can you tell me what was the… what were the sorts  of things that you were able to observe as… as she was able to have this experience with you guys?

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. It’s… it’s… I like that you used the word observe, because so much of it was that. You know? It was… I was really, a lot of it was watching her closely and watching her responses to things. A lot of the… a lot of the way I discovered pretty much everything that… that we did as a… as a parent was trying something and then observing her. Did she like that or did she hate that? And if she hated it, we would say, okay, we’re not going to do that again. It was, again, a pretty basic system. The system in the beginning was quite basic but extremely effective, because so then… so the, like when she was… when we would… when sleep was more something that we could discuss and something that we could work together on, it was really about asking her to tune into her body, and asking her to discover, and exploring with her to discover the impact of sleep. And the way I always try and work with things with kids is I don’t tell them, you know if you get not… if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re going to be tired and grumpy the next day and then you’re not going to have a good day. Because that sounds like, er. I mean if I were a kid I would never want to sleep if I heard that. You know? I would fight sleep all the time because you’re telling me what to do and you’re telling me I’m wrong. So, what I did and said, I was like, ‘You know, kiddo, sometimes you want to stay up extra late because you’re doing something that’s fun and it’s interesting, and you might be grumpy the next day, but it’s worth it. And sometimes you don’t want to stay up late because you want to have a nice day the next day and you don’t want to be grumpy the next day. And some… then there’s all sorts of things in between. And sometimes we might want to go out at two in the morning and go and fries downtown at the 24 hour place and we don’t even sleep at all. And then sometimes we want to get to sleep super early, and sometimes…’ And like, we would talk about all the sometimes, all the options. You know? And then we would look at each option, and what was the benefit and what was the potential… potential benefit and potential cost. And… and we would explore those together. And so there was never any wrongness about any option. All the options were available to us. And that way there was no resistance to the different options. You know? And it really wasn’t long before my kid started to really think about these things on… on her own. What is the impact? Same with food. We never did any coercion or force or… with food. Never limits. We never said no. You know? Just the idea of saying no to her about food would mean that I’m telling her don’t listen to your body. Listen to me instead. You know? And that… that… there’s like an underlying message there that you can’t trust yourself. And then that, because I’m not always going to be the one that she’s going to have telling her what to do. Right? Eventually [15:00] it’s going to be other people. And I was also thinking when other people are telling her what to do, if it conflicts with her own intuition – her body intuition, her deep consciousness intuition – when she’s… when she’s listening to that intuition and she has an authority figure or somebody that, you know, she respects, or somebody that has some power over her telling her the opposite, how do I want her to respond? I want her to take the information in from the other source, but I don’t want that source to be the thing that makes the decision for her. And so, I couldn’t be the thing that made the decision for her either. I had to be the… the one source of… of information, and that’s why I always say I didn’t teach my daughter what to think, I taught her how to think. How to think, how to analyse, how to… how to learn about herself, and…

Carly:
And maintain that trust, the trust in her body to listen to its own cues and take those onboard.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
So, while she was a tiny baby…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
What was… like, thinking about days and nights…

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
… across the 24 hour period, how did she generally take her sleep?

Vivek:
Yeah. It’s… it’s interesting to ask me about 25 years ago, but it’s a good question.

Carly:
Yeah, good luck with that.

Vivek:
I will, I’ll tell you… I’ll tell you I remember the moment she decided not to nap anymore and, because I loved nap time. Nap time was the best.

Carly:
Yeah.

Vivek:
Add an hour to my clock.

Carly:
Pretty sure we all love them while they’re good.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Yeah.

Vivek:
Yeah. For sure. And she loved her nap time. Nap time was great. She would take one nap a day and it was very… she liked… she liked routine, so we would… we really were good about setting up routines once we figured them out. A lot of trial and error, you know? And a lot of the… this is the other thing, is that a lot of the time when we try something and it doesn’t work how we want it to, people will often just give up on the… on the philosophy or the ideas altogether. But some… a lot of the time what’s needed are small adjustments to things. You know?

Carly:
Tweaking. Tweaking things.

Vivek:
Tweaking. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Exactly. And… and so we did a lot of tweaking. And so, but the routines for the nap time, you know, we would have like a specific routine, and… and she would fall very lovingly, peacefully into her nap after we figured out… figured out things. But so I remember that day where she said I didn’t want a nap, and I remember like, there was a part of me that really wanted to push her. I was like, I said, ‘Are you sure, kiddo? Because a nap is so great.’ And she was like, ‘No, no, no. I don’t want a nap.’ I was like, ‘I really think a nap would be good for you. Are you sure you don’t want a nap?’ Really, you should listen to…’ and then I’m going, ‘You should listen to your body.’ And I remember this conversation because I was laughing at myself as I was doing it. I’m like, Vivek, you’re about to coerce her. You can see it, right? You’re about to try and push her. And I was like trying not to, trying so hard not to, and I was like biting my tongue. And at some point I was just like, okay, okay. It’s really important. And then I did my… my thing. I said, it’s really important for you to listen to your body, kid. I really appreciate that you’re telling me you don’t have to nap. And she just never napped again. Right? And so, like… but what happened then, right? I had an experience of… of real loss at that moment. I had an experience of grief at that moment. My whole life kind of had to change at that moment because this hour break was a huge thing for me. You know? I mean I was a stay at home dad the whole time. My wife mostly went… went to work, and although here in Canada I think we get like 18 months maternity leave or something like that. Some ridiculous amount, which is great, and ridiculous in a good way.

Carly:
Yeah. That’s amazing.

Vivek:
Yeah. But… but, but, but, like this naptime was so important to me, and so I… I knew that if I didn’t deal with the feelings I had inside about the loss of the naptime that I would have resentment towards her. Right? And having resentment towards her natural process, it just… it doesn’t make sense. But if we don’t tend to those feelings inside of us they build, then they have residue, and then they come out in ways that, you know, that we don’t expect or we don’t intend. And in the work that I…

Carly:
And even though it was… it doesn’t necessarily make sense in that, you know, it’s not anything that she could control, but at the same time it does make sense in that it did have a big impact on you. So, feeling those feelings and dealing with them, that’s all part of the process, isn’t it?

Vivek:
Yeah. That’s exactly it. That’s exactly. I appreciate that you’re saying it does. I said it doesn’t make sense, and you’re actually right. It does make sense. It doesn’t make sense from that perspective, but it does make sense from me being a human. You know? And… and then the parents that I work with very, very often, in so many different aspects of their lives, they experience a lot of pain, a lot of anger, a lot of frustration, and then they feel bad about it because they’re just… just like, oh, it’s just the kids. You know? They’re not meaning to do it. And then they want to be gentle parents, and they hear the word gentle, and they think that means everything has to be gentle all the time, but it’s actually quite a chaotic experience a lot of the time because we have all of this stuff. Like, I often say I’m a tangled mess of trauma and triggers and, you know, and all my history. And so that tangle… it takes time to untangle all that stuff, and then something activates it and all of a sudden I’m, [20:00] I’m a 4 year old seeking attachment. You know? I’m not 52 or 42 or whatever age I am. I’m, all of a sudden I’m that… that little, hurt kid that’s not being seen, that’s not being accepted. And then that kid takes over and it’s very challenging. And so, you know, like being able to have a relationship with little Vivek, I just did a… I just did a half hour video yesterday on having a relationship with your own inner… your inner child, and how important it is and… to be able… to be able to speak really kindly and to be the adult. I now and the safe… I now am the safe adult little Vivek never had. You know? And I…

Carly:
And it’s having that compassion for that little self, like being able to see that in yourself and treat yourself as gently as you’re trying to treat your child.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
It’s a huge part of the process. So, I think that’s the bit that sometimes people miss in the gentle parenting. It’s not always got very much to do with what we’re actually doing with our little people. It’s about what we’re doing within ourselves so that we’re okay too.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah. It’s such a powerful thing. And then…

Carly:
Really.

Vivek:
… and then we build, we build that habit of… of being compassionate in those difficult moments with ourselves, and then that habit has a tendency to leak out onto our kids, which is… which is fantastic. You know? And…

Carly:
Doubly powerful, that’s for sure.

Vivek:
Yeah. Yeah.

Carly:
Well, can I ask you, so I’m just thinking with your little person, so she… you… you were very willing to go with her and develop routines and things like that around her.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
In those early parts of her life – so, say from birth through to two.

Vivek:
Okay.

Carly:
Was there specific things that helped you and your wife feel okay in yourselves while you were following her lead with her sleep?

Vivek:
Mm. Yeah.

Carly:
Like, did you take naps during the day? Did you share night times? Did you find specific strategies that really helped you both maintain your wellbeing?

Vivek:
That’s a really good question. I will say that I was probably less aware of taking care of myself in those days, and… and would liked to have had more awareness of that. You know, this is actually a lot. When I think about the stuff I teach now, there’s actually a lot that I wish I had known in those days. And I was a lot less compassionate and kind to myself than… than I would like to have been. Certainly the two of us, you know, having one kid and two of us made for something a lot easier than a lot of parents who, you know, like as one parent with four kids, for example, and all of them have different sleep rhythms and different sleep needs. So, having the two of us be able to, you know, pass her back and forth for different parts of that routine was a big… was a big thing. So, that when one of us was feeling stressed to the point where it was going to start coming out, the other would take over. And, you know, there were different aspects that she specifically wanted one of or the other of us to do more, and… and so then we were able to tune into that and then the other person would get a break during that. And, you know, for me, I was home all day with her and… well, I guess in the beginning both of us were. So, I think that in the beginning we were really pretty good about taking turns back and forth. Meditation was something that has always been part of our lifestyle, separate from having a kid. You know, my wife and I met in a spiritual class and back in 1980… 1990 is when we met. And… and we both follow… have followed the same spiritual teacher for like 30 years. And so, we have… this is one thing that the two of us have very much in common, where our personalities are very different in a lot of ways. But the one thing that we have in common is our… our spiritual ideology. And so, meditation’s always been something that’s been really powerful for us. And I know meditating with our kid, and meditating with our kid in mind, has always been something really powerful. In my membership group that I run with Sujai – and Sujai Johnston is the creator and the founder of Gentle Parents Unite and she’s a brilliant person, and the two of us are kind of business partners in our parenting group, which you can find at gentleparentsunite.com by the way. We actually, that’s how you…

Carly:
And we’ll drop that into show notes, for sure.

Vivek:
Excellent. Thank you. And so, the parents that we work, in that membership group I do a meditation every Friday, and it’s an hour long. And one of the meditations that we do is meditating on connecting spirit to spirit or consciousness to consciousness with your child. And this is where you go inside to your deep consciousness and you find a sense of stillness, and then you project that stillness to your child’s consciousness, and you connect them. And we do one that’s connected to the… we do like, we use different images, and we do one that’s connected to the… the earth, and one that’s connected to the sky, and one that’s connected to the ocean. And we use these different images to connect with our children. And… and so, it’s… there’s a really powerful, because there’s something that happens under the surface with humans that we often aren’t aware of. [25:00] And we are, again this is another thing that we were fortunate to be aware of in those days, was this under the surface connection that we have. Because I talk about human… human beings as a… as a liquid system. When we interact with each other it’s a liquid system. It’s the liquid system versus the pool ball system. So, when we play pool, and you shoot one ball against the other they bounce off each other. And they affect each other, but only for that instant that they’re actually in contact, and the rest of the time they’re completely separate. But the liquid system is more like a pond where if you… if you make an impact on the pond in one area the entire pond is affected. The ripples go down, all the way down, and all the way across. And so, this is… this is… my saying is every part of the system affects every other part of the system. And so, our unconscious selves have a lot of interaction with each other, have a lot of influence on each other. And so, a lot of what we did was using our own meditative state to affect her consciousness as well and bring a sense of peace and bring a sense of calm to her. I know you really asked about, like what did we… what did we do for ourselves, but our… You know, another reason that a lot of our focus was not on ourselves in those early days, even though like I said, I would have liked to have known more about this, was my daughter was born with a lot of medical complications and we lived a lot of our lives in the hospital in the first… the sick kids’ hospital in the first couple of years especially, but for like a long time. And… and so, a lot of our focus was on her, her health, and her survival in a lot of ways. And… and it kind of put the… it kind of put a lot of the attention off of us because of that. You know? Now when I support parents that are going through the similar kinds of things, I help shift that attention back onto them, because it’s one thing that I think we would have… could have used some guidance around back in those days.

Carly:
I guess that’s probably the thing though, isn’t it? Like, in that… that setting, like it was probably too hard for you both to do that for yourselves. Like, you need like the… you probably needed the outside support to be able to help bring that focus for you.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Because it can be really hard when you’re living it and when you’ve – especially, like you said, you had a sick babe.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Like, of course that’s where your energy and your focus is going.

Vivek:
Right. Yeah.

Carly:
Now, I’m just looking at our time, and we’re actually coming up to 30 minutes for our episode. But I feel like we’re not finished yet. Would you be interested in joining us for an extra episode?

Vivek:
I would love to do that.

Carly:
Amazing.

Vivek:
Yeah.

Carly:
Well, we might just finish this one off.

Vivek:
Sure.

Carly:
Just so that we’re not holding anybody up for this one.

Vivek:
Sure.

Carly:
But I would love if you could share a tip for our listeners for this week.

Vivek:
Absolutely. You know, one of the things about sleep for me that has been really helpful is to understand one of the main reasons that kids resist sleep – and I say resist sleep in… in quotes because resist implies that there’s a particular way that they need and a particular time they need to fall asleep. But still, it is something that kids do have a struggle with, even if they’re really tired. And one of the reasons for that, that I have understood and been able to work with, is that there’s a… there’s a… there’s a separation that happens when kids fall asleep. They’re separating from us. They’re separating from their source of comfort, their source of safety, their source of connection, their source of attachment. And they’re also separating from themselves, because they don’t necessarily know what’s happening as their consciousness disappears. You know? So, there’s a lot that’s happening that’s feel… can feel unsafe, can feel scary, can feel like a separation, and it’s a long separation too. And… and so that, this is like, this is something that’s really important, and so the time leading up to sleep can… the way that we work with it can make a big difference in the feeling of safety and the feeling of connection and helping kids feel that. And, you know, the… from the… when we approach it with frustration in ourselves, that frustration automatically goes to our kids. So, I think there’s two… the two aspects of working inwardly with ourselves to help ourselves with that frustration, and then working outwardly to help our kids feel that sense of connection, that it’s safe, that they’re still safe. Now, the problem is if we’re doing things that make kids don’t… feel unsafe, like if they are not wanting to go to sleep and we tell them they have to go to sleep, and then they come out of the bedroom and they say, you better go back into the bedroom, then they don’t feel safe. And the reason they’re coming out is because they’re feeling that connection and needing and seeking that connection, seeking that… that sense of safety or seeking that sense of what’s missing for them. And, so changing our focus, I call it having iceberg consciousness. Iceberg consciousness is instead of seeing just the tip of the iceberg we look at the big well of stuff underneath, that all the needs, all the feelings, all the different things that are impacting our kids in that moment, and we work from that perspective. And when we work from that perspective it [30:00] really shifts how our kids feel us. You know, it was recently I was interacting with a young person. This isn’t about sleep, but I was recently interacting with a young person who has a rep… had a reputation, I found out from other adults in their life, had a reputation for being very greedy and always demanding things and not… not wanting to ever give but always wanting to take, take, take. And they came over. I was visiting a friend and they came over to the friend’s place and they were… immediately came in the room and started demanding things. I want this and I want that. And I could… right away I could see my… my friend was like tensing up, like getting ready to set a boundary and tell the kid this is not appropriate or whatever. And then they latched onto this sketchbook that they really wanted. They really wanted the sketchbook. And… and so, they started demanding the sketchbook and demanding my friend go out and buy them a sketchbook - because they had… they had some history - and demanding they buy them the sketchbook. And she was saying, no, I can’t, I have to work, I’m too busy. She was making excuses. But again, like only dealing with the surface, only dealing with the behaviour. So, and I could tell that this kid didn’t really care about the sketchbook. Not really. They wanted their… they wanted their… their connection need met. They wanted to be seen. They wanted to be valued. I could feel all these relational things that were underneath the surface. And so, I jumped in, and I said, hey, you know what, kiddo? I betcha my friend actually really does want to buy you a sketchbook, and maybe they’ll go to the Dollar Store one day and they’ll get you one, and then they’ll be so happy thinking about which one can I pick for my friend, because they’re such a wonderful friend and I want to get just the right one for them. And she yelled out, ‘Pink.’ Right away she felt it. Right? She was… she was in the Dollar Store with me in that moment in her mind.

Carly:
Yeah, she was there. Yeah.

Vivek:
She was there. And she went, she went, ‘Pink!’ And I said, yeah, yeah, yeah, pink, pink, pink. And I said, make a note, pink. I said to my friend. And then I said, yeah, and then she’ll bring it home, and then whenever you guys get together – because she was also saying you have to bring it to me tomorrow – so, I also added, whenever you guys get together, she’ll give it to you, and you’ll be so happy, and you can draw in it together and it’ll be so wonderful. So, she just like, from… from all this tension of demanding, she just went, okay, and she walked out of the room. It was fine. And then later…

Carly:
Because that wasn’t actually what she was going for.

Vivek:
Exactly. And then later on she told – and I didn’t know this person at all, right? This young person at all, except for like the 15 minutes we interacted. So, later on she had her friend send me a text, and the text said, ‘Vivek, I really loved meeting you today and I hope we can play again together one day. And when we do I want to buy you a present.’

Carly:
Oh.

Vivek:
‘I don’t know what I’m going to get. I don’t know if I can get something.’ Because she’s just a kid. She doesn’t know. ‘But I really want to get you a present.’ So, in like one instance of meeting the need underneath the surface her whole relationship to giving and receiving changes. You know? And if that was a consistent experience with her it would… it would… I never told her what she should do. I never told her she was wrong for anything. But her natural generosity came out. You know? And I’ve had so many… so many experiences with kids over the… over the years, because I’ve worked with a lot of kids, hundreds of kids, in the school system, in volunteer with youth agencies, with the parents that I work with, teaching martial arts and dance kids’ classes for years and years and years and years, I have so much experience with kids. And time after time after time when I employ my iceberg consciousness it takes a lot of discipline because, you know, like concentration and awareness because the… I get that impact from the behaviour, but when I look underneath and I… and I work with those feelings underneath, it always has a dramatic effect. And I think it’s the same with sleep. You know? When I allow myself to feel my iceberg and my kid’s iceberg and we connect that way, it has a dramatic effect.

Carly:
That is amazing. I am absolutely loving that. And I’m going to be thinking about that for quite some time, I think. But we’re going to have to finish up this episode there, but thank you so much, Vivek. That was amazing. I loved hearing that first part of your story, and I’m really looking forward to hearing more in our next episode together. Thank you.

Vivek:
Thank you so much.


Carly:
I really hope you enjoyed the podcast today the information we discussed was just that information only it is not specific advice if you take any action following something you've heard from our show today it is important to make sure you get professional advice about your unique situation before you proceed whether that advice is legal, financial, accounting, medical or any other advice. Please reach out to me if you do have any questions or if there's a topic you'd really like us to be covering and if you know somebody who'd really benefit from listening to our podcast please be sure to pass our name along also check out our free peer support group the beyond sleep training project and our wonderful website www.littlesparklers.org. If you'd like even more from the show you can join us as a patron on Patreon and you can find a link for that in our show notes if listening is not really your jam we also make sure we put full episode transcripts on our little sparklers website for you to also enjoy and fully captioned YouTube videos as well on our Little Sparklers channel so thanks again for listening today we really enjoy bringing this podcast to you.

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