Problem-solving with your children | Donna Joy Ford | 063

In this episode, Martha Beck Life Coach and Innate Healing therapist, Donna-Joy Ford, joins host Candice Dick as they discuss emotionally intelligent problem-solving with your children.

They explore how to better understand our reactivity around our children, what is needed in the moment to respond better, what lies below behaviour, and how to offer empathy to our children.



01:36 Understanding our children and why they might misbehave

There’s a real stigma attached to our children’s misbehaviour. And in our reactivity towards that, the phrases that I hear a lot – “we want to nip it in the bud,” “we want to control this … behaviour,” “I want them to control their emotions.”

“Children that can do well will do well.” –  Dr Ross Greene. So when our children are in struggle, remember that they are battling with something; they need our help and support. They need us as opposed to “they are being difficult or misbehaving or naughty”.

What can we do as parents? We have to grow ourselves in order to be more patient or to be able to remember to put down what we are doing and meet our kids at eye level and go “What can I help you with?”

They need us, and we need to do the work to be available to them and not reactive over whatever’s happening.

07:07 Handling Our Reactivity

As soon as you feel reactive, as soon as you are reacting to your child’s behaviour, that’s a clue you have work to do. 

Instead of focusing your attention outside of you on your child,

  • Take a pause
  • Remove yourself from the reactive situation
  • Find your centre again

This is really an opportunity for you as a parent to get the help that you need.

Once you are calm, revisit your child and use the FOG tool as a key element for purposeful communication around issues within the family. 

09:38 About the FOG tool

FOG is about recognising we have feelings going on, validating our feelings, understanding what our goal is, and exploring how we get from where we are at to where we want to go.

10:39 Taking a Pause 

Often, when we are reactive, we compound the problem that the child has presented us with. 

Taking over from their problems in your own reactive state, wanting to control or nip it in the bud, and being immediate in your response to it compounds and escalates the anxiety levels and the perception of the problem. 

So, take a pause if it isn’t life-threatening. “Before you walk away or take a pause, put a hand on their shoulder and say, “We’re all going to be okay.” ”

15:25 Why it’s important to circle back to the situation after taking a pause

We start to build new neural networks that help us learn to address the situation differently.

16:08 Role Play 1: Child wants something NOW that parents can’t afford

20:29 Lessons from Role Play 1 – These difficult behaviours are an important part of growth

Sometimes we think, if we could just be a better parent, our children would not be behaving in this way. However, these difficult behaviours are a normal and important part of growth. It’s how we handle them, that’s where the learning happens. 

With perfect behaviour, our kids would never learn how to deal with challenges and we would have compliant children, which means problem solving, collaboration, conflict resolution would not be part of their learning.

22:32 Lessons from Role Play 1 – Be aware of the pattern of fixing all the problems

Sometimes our own desire and anxiety to keep our children happy means we do fix all the things which results in children who think the world revolves around them. Which is very hard when they reach adulthood and find out it doesn’t.

They might start to believe they can’t fix their own problems, that they need another person to act on their desires in order to fix the problem.

23:15 Lessons from Role Play 1 – Involve children in decision-making – What do you suggest we do?

24:50 Recognise when you lack empathy for your child’s problem

27:44 Role Play 2 

30:40 Do your own human growth work to not react to your children from your wounding

Be gentle with yourself as you do.

Also, be compassionate that your children are coming a place of lack of skill, their own emotional reactivity. When we can hold their wounding and walk with them, they no longer have to react from their wounding.

31:54 Do you hold your children to a higher emotional and behavioral standard than you hold yourself?

They’re not allowed to have tantrums, but we are. They’re not allowed to be reactive, but we are. They’re not allowed to have a bad day, but we are.

There’s an innate intelligence in children when they’re not in fight or flight, when they’re not. When you reflect that and hold space for that within their lives and they come up with their own solutions, that cultivates drip by drip a sense of belief and trust in themselves which adds to their self-esteem or self-confidence.

While they are still in your home, you can hold space for them to find imperfect solutions. You might have better solutions in that conversation, but let them have the space to make mistakes or find solutions that aren’t at your adult level with your 20-years plus experience in years lived than they have.


“We want our children, when there’s trouble, to go, “There’s a problem. I need to chat to my parents,” as opposed to “Oh, I have a problem. My parents better not find out.””

“Sometimes our own desire and anxiety to keep our children happy means we do fix all the things which results in children who think the world revolves around them.”

Contact Donna-Joy Ford
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  • Donna’s Email if you wish to join the 1-year Parenting Zoom is

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