Here's to strong women...may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.
June 21, 2022

Vulnerable Connection, Coping, and 3 Q's to Ask Your Kids Daily // with Cai Graham


In Episode 41 of Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them, Cai Graham chats with host Carmelita (Cat) Tiu about connecting with our tweens and teens, and coping.  

Some highlights:

  • The importance of being vulnerable in front of their kids
  • Why we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for the challenges we feel when raising tweens & teens
  • 3 questions to ask your tweens & teens every day
  • Healthy ways to cope

Guest Bio:

Cai Graham is a Parenting & Teen Mentor, Podcaster, International Speaker and Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Teen Toolbox™️. She is a mum of two fantastic young adults in their late 20’s - so she has been deep in the parenting trenches.

Cai has blended nearly three decades of motherhood with her background as a Master Practitioner in: NLP, Hypnotherapy and Coaching, together with her experience as a ChildLine counsellor to create her TEEN Toolbox™️ Series  which provides parents and teenagers with the tools to successfully navigate this vital (and sometimes rocky) stages of adolescence.

To learn more about Cai Graham:

  • Visit www.caigraham.com
  • Follow her on Instagram @caigraham
  • Find her on Facebook - Facebook Page: @thecaigraham / Facebook Group: Parent & Teen Toolbox
  • Her Amazon bestselling book: The Teen Toolbox

Check out Cai’s videos:



In this episode – references and additional resources:

Previous episodes of Know Them, Be Them, Raise Them related to this topic that you may find helpful:


Brad Yates 




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Transcript
Cai Graham:

when they become teenagers, our role as parents changes. We sort of, like it or not, have to start treating our kids more as young adults and as equals. So we go from manager to mentor and that's when we have to start guiding and that's where we have to start role modeling. And if we want to talk kids to start opening up to us, we need to open up to them as well. We need to be the change we want to see.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Welcome to know them. Be them, raise them a show. So to help busy, mindful, and growth oriented moms of girls stay informed and inspired, especially. Through their daughters, tween and teen years. I'm your host Carmelita two. If you like what you hear or you find something helpful in this podcast. Please hit, subscribe or follow. Tell your friends and leave a review on apple podcast. Podcasts or Spotify, you may think subscribing and reviews don't help, but they actually do help other listeners find this show. So thank you in advance for your support and thanks to all of you who have already done so. It really, really means so much. My guest today is Chi gram. She's a parenting and teen mentor. Podcaster international speaker and bestselling author of the team toolbox. She's a mom of of two fantastic young adults. So she's been deep in the parenting trenches. Kai has blended nearly three decades. Needs of motherhood with her background as a master practitioner in NLP hypnosis. Hypnotherapy and coaching together with her experience as a Childline counselor. To create her team toolbox series, which provides parents and teenagers with the tools to successfully navigate the vital and sometimes Rocky stages of adolescents. It's her mission to help parents to support their children so that together we can build a mentally healthier and happier generation of young people. Kai was here before in episode 40 to talk about self-harm. She unpacked why it happens and how we can best support our kids. If they are contemplating or engaging in self harm. Today our discussion is centered around connection and coping. Why it's so important for parents to show up with the vulnerability. Questions. We can ask to foster deeper connection with our kids. And healthy Coping techniques Here's our conversation

Cai Graham:

we like our kids to look to us to go mum and dad had got the answers but sometimes we don't. And actually sometimes it's a bit of a relief for kids to realize that we don't have it all mapped out because they don't. And it's like, well, we'll get through this, we'll do this. And it's putting the positive on a negative situation and going, come on, we've got this.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

yeah.

Cai Graham:

In together and we will move forward as quickly or slowly as you need. Because sometimes as I said, we've rolled up our sleeves and go, right, well, we'll have this sorted in a week and it doesn't always work like that. And I think the thing is to remember your child is an adult in waiting. And as a teenager, they want independence. So sometimes we have to go slowly. We have to respect their wishes, respect what they are going through. And that can be really frustrating when you think that you have all the answers and you know, but it's just in order to gain your child's trust. It's a matter of sort of giving them the reigns a bit.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Two things that I really appreciate about. Kind of walking alongside them. Um, one is, it's not me against you. If there's a disagreement or an issue it's us against the problem. And, and so reframing it that way, like you were saying about, we're a team we're in this together, we're, we'll figure it out together and I have your back. I think that that perspective shift is so great because I. Definitely inclined to fix. And so, so

Cai Graham:

us are, I think. Yeah. Yeah,

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

but also the ability to show your kids, that you don't have it all figured out and that you make mistakes too, or just are, feeling things and figuring things out as you go showing them that also gives them permission to feel like that's okay. And that's something I'm definitely learning for myself. A lot of families don't grow up talking about feelings very much, myself included. But giving them that permission by modeling that for them is I would think a huge cycle breaker and shift in hopefully generational patterns to come.

Cai Graham:

I think many of us are, you know, especially sort of my age. I was bought up in a generation of children should be seen and not heard. And so we as parents that's how we've been. Dare. I say it programmed. And yet suddenly the goalposts have changed and we're doing it all differently and it just feels uneasy. And we don't know how to talk about feelings and we don't know how to talk about emotions and that's okay. When. Uh, vulnerable. It shows the, our strength and our courage of being able to get it wrong. And I think kids need to see that nowadays they have this rose tinted social media world where everything's perfect and actually, you know, it's any sign of failure or not being able to cope is, is always looked upon negatively. So if we, as parents can role model the fact that it's all right. If you don't have it all mapped out, it's all right. If you fall down, you just need to dust yourself up and take the learnings from it. As parents when we, when our kids are teenagers, we beat ourselves up. So for flip sake I've been doing this for at least 10 years. Surely I should know what I'm doing by now. And actually we don't because the goalposts keep on changing and, you know, When you sort five years old, you're micromanaging them and you know, making sure the pack lunches fine and Dustin and down when they don't get sort of, spelling and all that sort of stuff, and you're sort of managing them and that's fine. When they become teenagers, you can't manage a teenager. It just doesn't happen. And our role as parents changes. We sort of, like it or not, have to start treating our kids more as young adults and as equals. So we go from manager to mentor and that's when we have to start guiding and that's where we have to start role modeling. And if we want to talk kids to start opening up to us, we need to open up to them as well. We need to be the change we want to see. So it's quite hard for many parents, but if we leave ourselves vulnerable, if we still go, I don't quite know what I'm doing here. I don't mean sort of to tell them about you know, you're defaulting on your mortgage payments. But what I do mean is, you know, I'm sort of struggling here because this is how I'm feeling. And kids can then sort of see, well, okay mom or dad, or whoever is having a hard time, but they're working through it. They're still laughing and joking. They're still able to put one foot in front of the other and it is it's mentoring and showing your kids how to deal with difficult situations, complex emotions. That is showing them how to deal with it without resorting to self harm, which is that sort of that instant physical hit that takes away the emotional pain. Um, and I'll tell you I've got a good exercise. Very briefly. Forgive me. It's trying to find some information, how to communicate with your child a little bit better without giving them the Spanish inquisition.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Okay.

Cai Graham:

And this cause teenagers don't want to talk to their parents, you know? W why would they, so it's three questions that you should probably ask once a day, too much and it loses its impact. But this is for parents say that they know. I don't quite know what's going on in my child's life, but I, think it's okay. The first question is what's your number and that's on a scale of one to 10, how you're feeling, you know, one being very, very dark, suicidal, and 10 being, oh, skipping through the tulips. You don't need to worry about me. And if you hear that once a day, you go, oh, all right. They were a seven today and there are six that that's okay. Or there are certain yesterday, but now there are three, hang on a minute. What's going on. So that's your first question. Your second question is what's your word? And what you're looking for is a describing word for your child to tell you how they're feeling. And invariably, it starts off angry, and, and, you know, you can start unpacking it. Is that the same angry as yesterday? And they go, oh no, no, no, no. Yesterday I was angry because I got an F in math. Well, why did you, well, I didn't submit my work. Oh, okay. But why are you angry today that, oh, so-and-so said something, you know, in line and it made me feel sort of, you know, really small. Okay. That's a dip that could be betrayal that could be judged. You know, this gives you, this is a skill. It gives your child the emotional intelligence to start working out how they're feeling. This starts giving them labels. Oh, okay. I'm actually not as bad as I thought I was today, or this is actually what's going on and yeah, I'm right to feel this way. And it helps them to develop an emotional maturity. question and you have to abide by this as a parent is, "do you want to talk?" And embarrassingly, the answer is no, no. Oh God, no, no. I mean, I use this no seriously again, no way. And then you get that 95% of the time, 5% of the time you might just go. Yes. And then. You sit back and you go is now a good time. And your child might sort of go, no, I need to get my head straight, but I'll come back to, or they might go. Yeah. Could we that. Then don't sit them across the table and do the Spanish inquisition. Go for a walk, bake cookies, go for a drive. But something that opens up that dialogue and it's basically: shoot. Tell me, tell me what's going on. What's happening in your life. And it could just be tiny stuff that we still need to hear about because when we listened to the tiny stuff and they trust us, they'll start telling us about the big stuff.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Hmm.

Cai Graham:

And that opens up the dialogue and that tells your child. Oh, they've got my back I'm okay. And so if that gives them the safety blanket to know that you're there to support them, and it allows you to realize on a sliding scale, they doing all right or no, they're struggling a bit. And I need to just pay a bit more attention and watch out to what's going on.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Those are so helpful. I, I mean, on so many levels. There's a, a part of me that loves data. Right. And looking at things big picture so that consistent showing up and questioning and encouraging them to have that self-awareness and then having that over time, not just once every six months or once when you see them looking upset, but even on good days, you know? So I, Yeah. it's, it's, it's a really wonderful way to get that information. And then. I completely relate to when they say yes, I'd like to talk and not sitting across from them. I just noticed this about myself as I became an adult was the most intense conversations I had with my mom tended to be when we were in the car and I didn't have to look at her in the eye. Um, we were, I could stare at something else, you know, so, that all resonates and makes so much sense and it's easy. It feels attainable.

Cai Graham:

It is. And I think that the great thing about that is, as you say, this is positive, as opposed to, you know, the negative, you know, I am feeling an eight out of 10 and I'm feeling sort of, you know, hugely relieved. Great. Let's talk about that and no, you're all right. I'm fine. Other times, and it is celebrated helps you celebrate your child's wins as well as their struggles. And so that just gives you a little glimpse into what's going on because let's face it as parents. We are desperate for information, but the older they get, the less we get. And so at least this is giving them the control to give us as much information as, as they want to, but it's giving us the control that we're probably getting the basic information that we need. So that helps us just regulate what's going on at home. It's best to start this, not when the chips are down, it's best to start this when everything's going well, so that, and you will get them when you hit struggles. And when your child hits struggles, you are more briefed with what's going on and that they are used to sort of communicating with you. And they know that actually we are coming as parents. From a place of the best of intentions to support them rather than to make them feel bad about whatever's going on in their world, because they are still developing. They are still young, they are still learning and we can hopefully guide them to something. And it might, it might be professional help, or it might just be, you know, they do say a problem shares is a problem halved, and maybe it's just sort of. I don't know what's going on. It's just chaos. And the point is, is, yeah, but sweetheart, didn't you see, I had the same sort of rubbish going on a couple of days ago, but we get through this together and that's just mirroring to your child that actually, yeah, I'm afraid life does strike out curve balls, but it's all right. It's not the end of the world. And we can deal with them together, which is a lot healthier way of doing that.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

yes. Uh, on that note, do you have any other suggestions as to coping strategies for teens?

Cai Graham:

The, the immediate chaos in my head the best way to deal with that is breathing exercises. Um, and you know, some people call it belly breath, some call it, box breathing. You know, a lot of schools are now teaching this because breath work is the fastest way to press pause in a chaotic mind. You know, if you ever sort of see, you know, you've been to an interview or you're just about to make a phone call, we just sort of sit down and just stop and just take five deep breaths. It helps us ground ourselves better. Um, a lot of kids love music, they sort of find that music as a sort of great outlet for just, you know, sorting out the chaos in their heads. A great way I would suggest is journaling. Um, because that allows us to get, get rid of all this rubbish in our head. And sometimes, you know, you just need to put it down on paper. You can keep a journal and it could be lovely or you can get it out on paper, scribbling it up and burn it or get rid of it or whatever. But it's just that physical act of getting this chaos out. It doesn't have to make sense. Um, and sometimes I suggest having a journaling practice. So you do this you know, either each morning, sometimes it's chaotic for school, so maybe each evening. And it's just getting rid of all that. Um, another great technique. Actually, when I worked in schools, this was a technique that the teenagers loved the most, which is called emotional freedom technique, otherwise known as tapping. I've got a video on it, but you can Google it. EFT or tapping. And there's a fantastic guy called Brad Yates who has a full YouTube channel devoted to this. I call it acupuncture without the needles, because it releases that tension and pressure through. We all have sort of energy running through us and sometimes it gets trapped and we feel really stressed. And you tapped away on various pressure points, where the acupuncture needle is going, that, you know, and, and that is a great way. that was the one, you know, told teenagers about all these things and they know what actually tapping was the thing that worked for us, because you can do it on your face, which is fine, but you probably wouldn't want to do that waiting for a bus, or you can just tap on the nail beds. Um, but do that under the desk or when you're starting. With your hands in your pockets or something. That was the one that even though it looks bonkers, it's the one that works the best for kids. So, or the one that they liked the best as well.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

That's so fascinating to me. I love discovering new things and um, I definitely have to check that out.

Cai Graham:

Yeah, the breathing techniques fabulous. Because you can be doing that sitting on a bus, you can do is sitting in the exam, you know, no one knows what's going on? So you don't actually sort of have to look like you're having a meltdown. You can just sit there and go hang on a minute. In one minute, after I've done this, I will feel calmer. And it really, really helps.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

Such good tips, such good advice. Thank you so much. Kai.

Cai Graham:

My pleasure. Thank you so much.

Carmelita (Cat) Tiu, Host:

I'm so grateful for my time with Chi. She has a reassuring and Frank way of encouraging people that left me feeling. I. I guess capable, uh, empowered and, kind of excited to try these questions and tools with my daughters. So here are my top takeaways from this episode. Number one. Not only is it okay to be. The vulnerable with your kids, but it's beneficial for them. For many kids, it's a relief to hear that their parents don't have it. Figured out. Also you'll be role modeling to them that it's okay to admit you don't know something and you can lean into learning together. Together. And you'll show them that you have the strength and courage to be wrong. Number two. While we were managers when our kids were younger. We're more like mentors in this state. If we want kids to start opening up to us, we need to open up to them as well. Number three. Tweens and teens are adults in the making. They need to feel some degree of independence and autonomy in the process of managing their emotions and problems. We have to walk alongside them and respect what they're going through and the pace of their healing or growth. Which might be the Frustrating if you have the tendency to want to fix things right away Number four. Here are Kai's three questions that we can ask of our tweens and teens. Number one, what's your number of how you're feeling from one to 10? Number two. What's your word to describe how you're feeling today. And number three. Do you want to talk? Asking these consistently will increase your child's emotional self-awareness and strengthen their vocabulary. Tabulary for emotions and it'll give you a bit of insight into their world. Plus you'll remind. Find them often that you are there for them and have their back. Number five to help with coping and managing emotions. Encourage your tween or teen to explore breathing exercises. Listening to music that helps to ground them. I'm journaling. And EFT or tapping. Kai has provided links to videos. She's. Is created on breathing exercises and tapping. Those In the show notes so check those out To learn more about Cai Graham. Visit www.kaigraham.com. That's C a I G R a H a m.com. You can also follow her on Instagram at Chi gram. And find her on Facebook, her Facebook @thecaigraham. And her Facebook group. Is called the parent and teen toolbox. A huge thanks for listening. If you found something helpful or insightful. Remember to subscribe or follow, tell a friend and leave a review on apple podcasts and Spotify. I'm honored and humbled to share a portion of your day with you. And here's to strong women. May we know them, may we be them? And may we raise them?