As parents we want to do the best by our kids. But they don't come with a manual.
I've spoken before about how to teach kids to eat healthily, but what about even more broadly speaking. We want kids who like themselves.
So what's the secret to raising empowered, confident children who like themselves?
Kasey Edwards and her husband Dr Christopher Scanlon have written two books on EXACTLY this - Raising Girls Who Like Themselves and Bringing Up Boys Who Like Themselves.
This episode is full of practical tips, strategies and advice to teach children to adopt a power perspective and be ready to deal with life's challenges.
I am so excited to have Kasey join me on the podcast this week. I learned so much during this chat, and I know you will too.
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Hello everyone and welcome to this week's episode of the no Willness Wankering podcast Today. I'm very excited about this guest. She is Casey Edwards, and she spent over a decade climbing the corporate ladder as a management consultant until one day she woke up and she was like heck, I don't ever want to go to work. So this inspired her to write her first book, 30 Something and Over it, and that became a smash international bestseller. At that point, she's like I want to keep writing books Now. Casey Edwards has published seven books. You've probably heard of them before. We're going to be talking about them today. Two of those books are Raising Girls who Like Themselves in a World that Tells them that they Are Flawed, and also Bringing Up Boys who Like Themselves. She co-wrote these books with her husband, dr Christopher Scanlon, and I think what you're going to learn today in this week's episode is incredibly powerful. Particularly if you're a parent, if you're a teacher, if you're a grandparent, I think these are things that we can all take on board. I know I certainly got a lot out of today's chat, so I'm excited to get started. Let's do it. Casey Edwards, thank you for coming on the show and welcome.Kasey Edwards:
Lindy, it is my pleasure. Thanks so much for having me on. I think you do such important work and it really is a pleasure to speak to you and to all your listeners. Hello, everybody.Lyndi Cohen:
Hello, and we are so lucky to have you. I was saying to you before we started hitting record that I heard you talking and I just thought everyone has to hear what you have to say. You've written multiple books, and one of the things that you do focus on is parenting, but also body image and how this all comes together. How do we raise girls and how do we bring up boys who like themselves? It is such a challenge, especially in the social media age, and one of the things you have brought to our attention is the seven pillar framework. Can we please talk about that? That's right.Kasey Edwards:
The history of these books is that I am a mom of two girls and I'm also the wife of Dr Christopher Scanlon. So when our first order, violet, was born, and we bought Violet home from the hospital and, like most parents, we felt so ill equipped to be her parent, I even remember we were reading the instructions or trying to find instructions on the nappy box to work out how to put on a nappy. And, just so you know, there are no instructions on the box. And I remember thinking, gosh, if we can't even get this right, how on earth are we going to be parents that our daughter deserves, deserves right? And the deeper motivation for me was other than just the practical things of putting on a nappy, was I really wanted to give her something that I never had, and what that is is I wanted her to grow up liking herself. Because I grew up with this feeling of never being good enough and I should have liked myself, I should have felt like enough because I had all these privileges. I grew up in a happy family, I got a good education, I had friends, but I had this sense of inadequacy as a child and it followed me into my adult life. And I remember thinking if I raise Violet the way I was raised, then most likely she's going to feel not good enough too and she's going to grow up not liking herself as well. So that became Chris and my personal project, because we are both researchers and writers, and so we just wanted to work out how to do it. And then, once we did start doing the research and we started talking about it at parties. I remember we had a party at Bounce and one of our friends said I don't have time to read all of that. Can you just tell me what I have to do? And so we said yes, and so we boiled it down into seven essential foundation pillars that every child needs, every person needs, if they're going to grow up liking themselves. And the thing about these pillars is that often in society we don't build them in our kids, we even rob them. We weaken those pillars. So we need to, very intentionally with our parenting, build those seven pillars, and the good news is it's actually not that hard. We focused on everyday parenting tweaks that you can do in real life. So we are a busy, chaotic, messy family like anyone else's. We both work. We've got no family around to help, but through small tweaks and a change in focus, you can build this foundation. And if your child has a strong foundation, then they will be ready for anything. And that is our goal as parents. After all, we wanted our kids to be able to soar, to reach their potential, but we also want them to be strong enough to withstand life's challenges, challenges that we can't even anticipate, right, because the world is changing so quickly we can't protect them from everything that's coming. So we have to build their foundation so that they can withstand it themselves.Lyndi Cohen:
Isn't that everything we want for our kids? And, as you said, if we were not raised like that, it's really hard for us to know what the heck are we going to do? How are we going to do this? I'm so grateful that you have outlined it for us, and the number one essential pillar is a power perspective. Can you explain to us? What does that mean? What's entailed? What should we do? Tell us.Kasey Edwards:
Yes. So this really is so core to everything in life, and it is the idea that you can learn to think in a way that works for you rather than against you, that we can't control all the things that are going to happen in our life, but we can control our response and we can control how we think about those things, and that will change our experience in life. It will change whether or not we have a good life or we struggle through every little thing in life, and the thing about a power perspective is you don't pop out with one. You can learn it, and you can learn it through everyday parenting tweaks, and I'll give you just an example of how this happened in our family. So Violet, our oldest daughter, we were at a birthday party her birthday party and she came home and she was unwrapping her presents and her little sister, ivy, was helping, and when I mean helping, I mean that she broke one of Violet's toys, and so Violet was very upset by that, as you can imagine, and our instinct as parents was to rush in and rescue our poor little darling who was in tears. But if we had run in and rescued and said, don't worry, darling, we'll buy you another one, we would not have been building her power perspective, because in life unfortunate things happen right and we as parents are not going to be around to fix everything that goes wrong in our child's life. So they need to learn, first of all, that they are strong enough to withstand it. When something bad happens, they can deal with it, they don't need to be rescued. And two, we can teach them to think in a way that makes them resilient and optimistic. So we said to Violet yes, it is really disappointing that your toy is broken, but unfortunately there's nothing we can do about that. What you do have the power to choose is how you think about it. You can think about that broken toy and you can be miserable and sad and angry for the rest of the day, or you can just accept that it has happened and think about all the other amazing things that happened today, like your party or the friends and family who love you and all your other presence, and you can have a really good day. So that is just one of many, many examples that we have instilled in Violet over her life, and now she's 14 and she just naturally has a power perspective, but she didn't have one to start off with right. We taught it to her and so another example is the other day she came home and she had been playing sport and netball school sport. And she came home and we said how was your day? And she went it was great, I scored two goals. And we said that was awesome. What was the score? And she said, oh, we lost four to 68. Could have focused on the defeat. She could have come home and said I suck, the team sucks, it was embarrassing, the ref was unfair and had a terrible day, but she chose to focus on the thing that she did and the optimistic thing and she had a good day. Now that doesn't mean that we should deny reality at all. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive for our goals, but the research shows that people who have a power perspective work harder because they have faith in their ability to achieve things. They have better physical health, better mental health, better friendships. Everything that you could possibly imagine is better when you have an empowered perspective rather than you're going through life thinking you're like this helpless little boat bobbing on the oceans and the tides and the storm that's coming to hit you. That's really disempowering and the kids and the adults who grow up without a power perspective are more likely to suffer from anxiety, because anxiety is worrying about things that haven't happened yet. Right, if you have a power perspective, you will know that, no matter what happens, you'll be okay, so there'll be less things to worry about. They also have less depression, because depression is about lack of agency, feeling like you can't control things. A power perspective is well, I'll control the things that I can control, and that attitude is empowering.Lyndi Cohen:
That's powerful. You're fundamentally teaching kids the skill of reframing from a really young age. They never have to do it as consciously as you do when you learn it as you're an adult, but it's this gift that you give them that serves them throughout their whole lives.Kasey Edwards:
That's right. And just one little thing that you can tweak in your parenting to build your child's power perspective is the way we handle praise. So kids will come to us all the time looking for praise. That's normal and natural. And they come to us about 6,000 times. We worked out in their childhood Wow, 6,000 tiny moments that you can teach them that they get to decide who they are and if they are good enough, rather than giving their power to someone else to decide for them. And so when your child comes to you and says do you like my summer salt? Do you like my drawing? Do you like my outfit? When we rush and give praise straight away, we are saying to that child what I think matters more than what you think. I get to decide if that's good enough. And that is really disempowering because even as parents, we're going to tell them that they're awesome, of course, but there's going to be plenty of people in the world who are not. So we need to teach them. They get to decide if they're good enough. They don't have to rely on what other people think in order to be okay. So we call this flipping praise. So they come to us and say do you like my drawing. Give them your attention because they're also after a connection, right? And you say, well, because it's your drawing and your work. I'm really interested in what you think about your drawing. Tell me what you think. And just by doing that, by flipping that, you're saying you get to decide if you're good enough and you're instilling in them the power perspective. And sometimes kids don't like it. They just, of course, want praise, right, it's praise like that is like lemonade, like it tastes really good when you swallow it but it starts to corrode you from the inside out because it's actually disempowering. And our job as parents is not to just give our kids lemonade, right, our job is to teach them to be well functioning adults who don't need us, and part of that is to teach them that they get to decide who they are and if they're good enough.Lyndi Cohen:
That's beautiful. I feel like I have so many opportunities that I could practice that in my everyday parenting that I just haven't even thought to do. So that is very practical, thank you. Pillar number two you talk about is the strength of character. What is this all about?Kasey Edwards:
This is different from our boys book and our girls books. We've got two books We've got Raising Girls who Like Themselves and Bringing Up Boys who Like Themselves. Strength of character relates to girls as well, but it is particularly an issue for boys, and the reason is is in our society. We bring up boys to fear failure. We bring them up I mean girls too, but particularly for men. There are very few role models in a boys life where they have failed, got up, admitted their mistakes, learnt and triumphed Right. So boys grow up thinking that failing is the worst thing they can do. They also grow up not being able to express their emotions, and at the core of strength of character is emotional bravery. It is being strong enough to face your own emotions rather than offloading them on someone else, which can be anger, it can, or denying them, which is repressing them, and then they come out, explode out in dysfunctional ways, or it can be absolutely avoiding them, which we see in adult men with the rise of addiction. Right, they can't handle their uncomfortable emotions, so they gamble, they drink, they have porn. Addictions Like these are all growing. And then we have men who need help but won't go and see a psychologist. They won't go and see a doctor. They won't go even to their friends and express their discomfort and their sadness, and that is because they have never actually been taught emotional bravery. They don't know that they are capable of dealing with natural human emotions. And the key to emotional bravery this is really really good news, lindy is being able to accurately name your emotion. And the reason it's good news is because it's easy. Parents can teach their kids how to do this. The research shows that if your child can accurately name what they're feeling, they go most of the way to short cutting the distress and anger. They resolve their uncomfortable feeling just by naming it. It's like a magic wand, but you actually have to accurately name it. So if your boy comes home and he says that he's really angry when he's actually jealous or lonely, then it doesn't work right. He has to be able to accurately name it. And so in our book and I'll give you this, I'll give you this for your listeners we have an emotions wheel. Print it out, put it on your fridge and, when your boy is upset, get him to name the emotion and get him to name it to you. And our job as parents is to listen and be curious. If we judge, if we laugh, if we rush into fix too quickly, then they're not going to talk to us anymore. They need to be able to safely express that feeling and we need to support them and we need to give them a hug and they need to talk about it, and then they will start to feel better. And when you think about it, lindy, that's what we as women do all the time, like when we're having a bad day and we call a friend, what are we doing? When we're talking to our friend, we are accurately naming how we're feeling and then we go away and we feel better. Well, boys get very few examples in their life of men doing that, and if we don't very deliberately teach them to name their emotion, to show them that they are strong enough to deal with their uncomfortable emotions, then often they won't. And this will not only affect their relationships, right, because it's really hard to have a relationship with someone who is repressing everything or floating it, but it also stops them from reaching their potential. One of the reasons boys in particular do not reach their potential is they cannot handle the feedback that is necessary to succeed, because the feedback doesn't feel good. Right. It never feels good Rejection, criticism that never feels good, but you have to be strong enough to endure it to be able to reach your potential and succeed.Lyndi Cohen:
So, casey, what you're saying is we're teaching our kids how to sit with discomfort, to not run, to not flee A lot of what we talk about on this podcast. We talk about emotional eating. It's one way of coping, of soothing, of dealing, and it's just one strategy that we use. But if we're able to sit in the discomfort and be emotionally brave I love that term then we can realize that simply naming it allows that emotion to pass through us.Kasey Edwards:
That's right and gosh, imagine you know as an adult woman who you know runs for the chocolate whenever something goes wrong in my life. Imagine what a gift it is to our children to show them, to prove to them through their own experience you can do this, you are strong enough to handle the really difficult things in your life, and I'm going to be here and I'm going to cheer you on. That's beautiful.Lyndi Cohen:
At the moment. Can I just ask you for your practical advice? I've got a little boy and he'll say to me you know, my friends told me that I had to be the bad guy when we were playing a game, and so I'll sit with him and I'll say, oh, how did that make you feel? And I'll try and name it with him. And I notice his natural propensity is to say angry or go towards anger. But I feel like more of a close emotion he might be feeling is feeling sad or even lonely, and so I guess what we're talking about is being able to have those conversations where we're helping them work out exactly what that emotion is that was sitting at the core of what they were feeling.Kasey Edwards:
That's right. And then you can jump ahead to the pillar on friendship skills and to help your little guy talk to his friends and stand up for himself and go no, I don't want to be the bad guy today. And help him to understand that what are really, what good friends are, and good friends don't make you do things you don't want to do. And if your boy really doesn't want to be the bad guy, then a good friend wouldn't make him do that. But often for boys and for girls, we need to help them with the language of standing up for themselves, and that's something that we can do at home. Role playing is really important. What would you say tomorrow if your friends tell you to be the bad guy? Tell me what you're going to say and you practice it and then he can go to school and he's more likely to be able to say it. And you know these are skills and it takes time to develop them. But helping him say I don't want to be the bad guy now is going to dramatically increase the chances of I don't want to do that line of coke in 10 years time, right. For 20 years time, right. These are skills that you're teaching him again through everyday little parenting moments, about how to stand up for himself and how to enforce his own boundaries and how to choose friends who are good for him. And on this note about friends.Lyndi Cohen:
You talk about this idea of having friendship skills, and I wish that someone had taught me how to be a good friend or how to have good boundaries with friends. How do I interact with friends so much so that now in my adult life, I'm very interested in acquiring good friendship skills. But this is something we can be teaching our kids, so that they don't have to be adults trying to work it all out for themselves.Kasey Edwards:
Absolutely, and I'm the same. I wish I had known this. I learned how to handle conflict when I was 40. And I was sitting in a friendship skills workshop run by Dana Kerford from U R Strong amazing company. I was there with my daughter, Violet, who was in grade one at the time, and I sat back and went oh, is that how you do it? That would have been really good to know 30 years ago. The thing about friendship we think that it is a mix of magic and serendipity and genes, but it is not. Friendship is actually a skill and the kids who have the best friends are the kids who have the best friendship skills. And we can teach our kids. We can teach them how to choose friends who are good for them. We can teach them how to be a good friend, because if you're a good friend, you're more likely to have good friends. We teach them how to stand up for themselves. There are times where they are going to have to stand up to themselves against people who are mean on purpose so people who are not their friends like the bully but they're also going to have to stand up to people who are their friends, which is probably like your boy. He needs to be able to enforce his boundaries with his friends, and we need to be able. Sometimes, particularly with boys, we even have to teach them how to make a friend, and this is such an empowering skill Kids who are afraid to go to a holiday program because they don't know anyone, or to start a new school because they don't know anyone. We can teach them, step by step, exactly what you have to do to make a friend, and that is so empowering. I see that with my girls. I taught that to them when they were young and they will walk into any situation without any anxiety because they just know that they can make a friend, and that is simply because they have the skills to do it.Lyndi Cohen:
And Casey would that look like role playing with them once again and saying when you see someone you don't know? Here are some things you could say when you first see them.Kasey Edwards:
Yes. So we talk about it a bit like a house, a house of friendship. So the first thing you have to do is basically unlock the door, Because a lot of kids who want to make a friend don't realize that they've basically got to keep off the grass, or I'm going to set my dogs on your body language, right. So they're standing there with their arms folded, they're looking down, they've got closed off body language and they're basically saying don't come near me, right? Even though they really want a friend. And so the first thing they have to do is have open body language. They have to appear like they want to make a friend, and that's practicing eye contact, practicing smiling, those things right, Very, very basic. And then the next thing is opening the door. And by opening the door of friendship, that's starting the conversation. Hi, my name's James, what's your name? So teaching them to speak and ask questions. And then the next one is the connecting. I like basketball. Do you play basketball? What team do you play on? Sometimes for boys, that level of communication is too big a step for them and often it's just about joining in. So often kids think that they need to ask permission to join in a game. And if you ask permission, you're more likely to get a. No, Can I play with you? No, right? Research shows that you get much more success just by going in and picking up the ball and bat and playing and so. But we can help our kids. You want to play that game? Just go and join in and see what happens. It won't always work, but it's more likely to work.Lyndi Cohen:
Gee, I would have saved so much heartache if I'd been taught all these important things, Can we? So basically, what you're saying is stop scrolling on your phone, you know, look up, maybe even look bored. You know I think you will not allow yourself to kind of be in the moment. Don't feel like you have to distract yourself constantly for those older kids, and that gives you the opportunity to then have those really important conversations.Kasey Edwards:
Yeah, so I was working with a boy who just started high school. He was so desperate to make a friend. But I watched him walk out of school and he may as well have been giving everyone the finger. Based on his body language. He was like no, look up, smile. And I actually saw another boy who was looking over to him, who really also didn't know anyone Like. He was so desperate to connect. But this kid didn't see it because he was so worried and insecure about himself. And so we went through those steps, those very basic friendship skills steps, with him and by the end of the week he had a friend. By the end of three weeks he was hanging out with that kid on the weekend.Lyndi Cohen:
That's a huge life change and a very crucial life skill that prevents loneliness, which is endemic at the moment. It's a really huge problem. Can we talk now about Absolutely Boys and girls and body confidence? What are some things that we can be doing to raise kids who like their bodies?Kasey Edwards:
Yeah, okay. So I think our approach to boys and girls is different, and the reason is is because the world treats boys and girls differently when it comes to bodies. So the first thing I want to say about boys is take your boys body image seriously, all right. So we used to think it was just a girl parent problem. Increasingly it is becoming a boy parent problem too, and this is not because boys are always objectified the way girls are. It's because they're starting to be, and the advertising industry and social media have just honed in on them, right? They've become the target. And so, basically, what was happening to us like 50 years ago starting to happen to boys now. And but the problem is that it's not on our radar. So, as so girl parents think whether or not they want to give their, their daughter, a toy with a poor body image, sorry, with a poor body shape, unrealistic body shape. Now, whether it's yes or no, they kind of thought about it. People very rarely think about whether or not they should give a boy captain America or Batman or Spider-Man, and their body types are just as unrealistic, right? So we're not even thinking like that. And then boys often their poor body image manifests in something that we celebrate in our culture, which is exercise addiction. Then we go oh, it's so great, he's always at the gym or he's always working hard, but the motivation behind that can be really really damaging and unhealthy. And then they go off to the doctor and the doctor isn't thinking about an eating disorder or a poor body image Again, because in our culture we don't think about those stories, that issue for boys. So often a boys poor body image can fly under the radar until the issue is really really serious and really serious. Eating disorder is a lot harder to deal with.Lyndi Cohen:
So I will just say that typically when boys get eating disorders, it is a lot more severe. Because of this reason they have much higher rates of mortality from something like anorexia, because it becomes quite progressed by the time anyone picks up on it, and so earlier detection and prevention is crucial for honestly just saving boys lives. It's a really big deal.Kasey Edwards:
Yes, I know, and we have to think about this An eating disorder can kill your child. Right, as a society, we still joke about eating disorders as if it's like a great way to be on a diet oh, I wish I had an eating disorder, I could lose a few. It's like no, you don't, because even if it doesn't kill your child, it will absolutely take over your family's life. When you're, you have to supervise 12 meals a day just to keep your child alive. Everything in your family revolves around that, and that really affects other siblings, it really affects your relationship. It will affect what job you can do. It is that serious, and so we should not be overlooking this with boys or minimizing the consequences of an eating disorder. And the same goes with girls. You know we worry about our girls being abducted by a stranger on the street. They have a far greater chance of dying from an eating disorder than they have from stranger danger. Think about how much time his parents spent worrying about stranger danger and preparing our kids for that, compared with how little time we think about building a robust body image to protect them or reduce the chances of an eating disorder. But with girls, it's not just eating disorders right For women. As you know, lindy, a poor body image affects every aspect of a woman's life. I got an email from a grandma today who'd read eight Raising Girls who Like Themselves, and she's going to apply the strategies to her granddaughter because she said she's 69 and she still struggles with her body. And I saw that with my nana. She died at 89 and she was hungry her whole life. It's like what was the point? What was the point of that? The danger for girls is that they are growing up in a society and often families that tells them that their beauty is the most important thing about them. That's never going to work if you want your girl to like herself, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, beauty is an external measure. It's something that someone else bestows on you. Someone else gets to judge if you're beautiful enough and someone else gets to decide that you're not beautiful enough, right? So, going back to the power perspective, you are giving your daughter's power to someone else to decide if she's good enough and, by definition, you cannot be secure. You cannot like yourself if you are relying on other people to decide if you are good enough, right. So we need to build our girls and our boys identities, on things that they can control, on their characters, character, on their kindness, their creativity, the things that they think, say and do, rather than other people's perceptions of their beauty. The second problem with that is that nobody is beautiful enough in our society, and we see that. You know, if constant dieting, constant beauty procedures you know, under the knife, under the knife, under the knife, like it doesn't end, you never actually reach the goal of being beautiful enough. So when we as a society, or when we as families, focus on girls' beauty, when we tell them over and over again that they're beautiful, when we constantly talk about how they look, they will naturally grow up believing that their beauty is the most important thing about them, and many, many girls and women do right. And then we send them out into a world where they will never be beautiful enough. So, with the very best of intention, many parents are setting their girls up to fail by teaching them that essentially, they're an object and their beauty matters most. The only way we can win the beauty game is to not play it, and what I mean by that is to de-prioritize and devalue beauty in a girl's life. So, for example, when she thinks about something about her body that she doesn't like. Like for me. I would like to be taller, but it doesn't ruin my day, right? I don't not go out because I'm short. I don't sit in a meeting at work going oh, I'm short, I really suck, you know. It doesn't take up space in my head and that's what you want for your daughter. She might go. I wish I had longer legs, wish my boobs were bigger, or whatever, right, but then you go. Oh well, I've got more important things in life to think about and to focus on. That's our objective. It's not to try and convince your daughter that she's beautiful, because that just doesn't work.Lyndi Cohen:
So if your daughter comes up to you and she says Mom, do you think I'm beautiful? What would you say to her?Kasey Edwards:
Of course. So for me, beauty is just a fact. The sky is blue, you are beautiful, what? It's not a question of whether or not your daughter's beautiful. It's a question of how much you value her beauty. And so our girls know that we think they're beautiful, like that's just a reality full stop. But they also know that, of all the things that we love and value about them, their beauty is just not even on the list, like it's so unimportant we don't even raise it. So I'm not saying that you shouldn't ever tell your daughter that she's beautiful. Of course tell her that, but just keep it in perspective, you know, like instead of making it the most important thing about her life, make it a fraction of what's important. It's just oh yeah, you've got two feet, you've got two hands, yeah, of course she's beautiful.Lyndi Cohen:
I love that. So it's fundamentally, of course, I think you're beautiful, but that's the least impressive thing about you. I love how creative you are when you're doing art. I love how you are such a good friend and a kind person, so you are not discrediting their need to feel beautiful. That's still valid, but we're just saying in the priority list of life, it's just not that important.Kasey Edwards:
That's right. And so when your daughter comes to you and she's, you know, all dressed up as a princess, with a tiara and goodness knows what else, instead of saying look at you, you're so beautiful, you go look at how creative you are, the way you put that outfit together, that's amazing.Lyndi Cohen:
It is such an important one. I also feel myself. When I see my nieces, I can feel my knee jerk reaction is to comment on how they look. I have to really consciously decide not to do that, because that was how I was raised. I naturally do it and I have to go. I really like how creative you are, how stylish you are, and it's something I'm working on and, if you're listening, it's something we can all be doing. I really like this.Kasey Edwards:
It's so hard not to tell a little girl that she's beautiful because, like you said, that's how we were raised. It was said to us. But also, little girls are beautiful right, they are gorgeous. But something to remember is that little boys are beautiful and gorgeous too. But we managed to think of other things to say to little boys. So, with some practice and just being mindful like you are, then you can treat a girl as a person and not a doll, same as we do for boys. That's all right.Lyndi Cohen:
Everyone also the gentle reminder that we never have to be perfect. We're always just taking these little steps towards being a better parent and even if you do make a mistake, you go. You know, if I lose my temper or something, mommy felt really angry and I'm sorry. I yelled at you and I shouldn't have. So it's also just owning our mistakes, which I think is such a nice thing to be able to demonstrate to our kids as well.Kasey Edwards:
Yes, particularly with boys. Because, again back to role models, I can't tell you how many women have told us, when we were researching bringing up boys who, like themselves, that their husband had never apologized for anything, their father had never apologized for anything. So little boys rarely see men apologize for their mistakes. Now, nobody never has an occasion to apologize, right? We all stuff up in life, we all have reasons to apologize, and boys need to learn that you need to, you need to take accountability, but also that they can back to the strength of character. They are strong enough to admit that they made a mistake and then fixing it. Making amends, apologizing, making amends is not weakness, that is strength and that is power, because it's actually hard to do. And for them to do that, then that is something that they should feel proud of, not see it as a sign of weakness.Lyndi Cohen:
Gee, that feels so important. That feels so important. I feel like that's a really important one. I know I'm going to keep working on. I'm traversing back and forth between your seven pillars for boys and girls, because I do know lots of the parents listening might have one or the other boy. So if we can talk about just girls one of the pillars for the girls we have body ownership as one of the pillars. Can you talk to me a little bit about that?Kasey Edwards:
Yeah, this one is so important and it actually surprised me and worried me about how controversial this pillar is. And basically it is girls get to decide for themselves what they do with their bodies, and so what that means in a practical sense is, for example, if your daughter does not want to give affection to a relative, if she doesn't want to, she shouldn't have to. And not only should she not have to. You should fully support that decision. Now that turned out to be really controversial and we ended up on the front page of the Daily Mail being called the Kissing Police, and we got all these emails from sad grandmas saying you know, you're telling me that my grandchild can't kiss me. It's like we're not saying that at all. If your grandchild or your nephew or niece wants to hug you or kiss you, then that is fantastic, that's brilliant. But if they don't, they need to be supported to not do that, and often with boys, they're allowed to get away with it. Chris says you know, when he was told to kiss grandma when he was a baby and he went no, and he ran away, that was funny and cute, but his sister never had that option, right? Often girls have to. They are taught that they have to give affection and what we are teaching them is that another person's comfort and desire is more important than them honouring their own feelings and their own boundaries. Now, that might not seem much of a very much of a big deal when your daughter's four and she's surrounded in a home of loving adults, but when she's 15 and she's at a party and a boy asks to give him a blowjob and she has never, ever been taught that she can say no, she's never been taught that it is okay if someone gets upset with you. Your first responsibility is to honour your own feelings. Then it's likely that she won't be able to say no. And I interviewed a whole group of girls who went to a private school so they are the most elite, privileged girls in the country All of them had performed oral sex on boys that they did not want to do. And I said why did you do it? And they said I didn't know that I could say no. When you look at the research of girls who send nudes now I'm not slut shaming If a girl wants to send a nude and she knows what she's doing, then power to her, but over 90% of girls who send nude photos to boys do not want to do it. They do it because they don't want to upset him, they don't want to hurt his feelings, which is the lesson that they've learnt their whole life. Right, kiss someone so you don't upset them. Hug someone because they gave you a present. Don't wear that because Grandma won't like it. All these little lessons in our home then become really big problems later on. And if you want your girl to be able to not send that nude if she doesn't want to, if you want her to not say no to sexual advances if she doesn't want them, if you want her to reject all the pressure from the beauty industry and the cosmetic surgery industry and the diet industry, she needs to know that she gets control of her body. She gets to make an unpopular choice with her body and she will still be loved and accepted by you.Lyndi Cohen:
In a way, it's kind of like the emotional bravery you're talking about with boys. It's the being okay with the discomfort, having the courage to be disliked or to do something that isn't within the social norms. And I think what you're saying correctly is it doesn't mean your kids get away with being rude to people. What you're saying is they can still be respectful and kind and courteous, but they don't need to make their body do things to please other people.Kasey Edwards:
That's right. So there are social conventions. But instead of kissing Grandma, say how about if your child looks really uncomfortable? When you say, go and kiss Grandma, that's an opportunity for you to step in and go. How about a high five? Or how about a fist bump? Or we've talked to all the adults in our family and we say can you just ask first and that was a change to the script in our family. You know, for generations children do what the adults tell them to do. So for us to say we want them to decide for themselves. It was really shocking and not everyone liked it in our family, but we believed in it so strongly that it was worth doing that. And now everyone in the family is on board. When they say that do you feel like a hug or not? Or they wait for our child to initiate it, then they feel like they are helping raising our girls to be strong women. They are part of the communal project to raise our girls to like themselves.Lyndi Cohen:
Notting my head, because I just think this is such an important conversation and you touched on this idea of consent as well. And something I've been really mindful of is I'm playing with my son, so he likes to wrestle in bed Because, mommy, come, let's go wrestle in bed. It's a big activity he loves and I tickle him and he laughs really loudly and then he says no, stop. And the minute he says no stop, I stop, hands off. That's brilliant, I'm listening. I said you ask me to stop. If you use your words and you tell me to stop, I'll stop, even though I know he's saying stop as that joking kind of thing. I wanted to be so clear to him that his words matter, that other people's words matter, that you can give consent and you can take your consent away through your words and through your actions. And I think that's just. You know he's three years old. This is, you know, it's very early in life. But these little ways that I think we can be teaching consent with boys and with girls and this body ownership thing, this is such an important conversation.Kasey Edwards:
Yes, because tickling is actually one of the very first lessons that kids learn that it doesn't matter what you say, someone bigger than you can overpower you, right? No? If you are playing a tickling game with a child and they say no, even if they mean yes, that is your opportunity to teach them absolute golden lesson that no means no, doesn't matter what the circumstances. Right, so you stop and you go. I'm stopping because you told me to say no, you said no and you told me to stop, and that is the gift for life.Lyndi Cohen:
That means we won't have to have these teenage boys and we're having consent conversations with what we will, but a lot of the work would have also already been done, so they'll implicitly understand which is, I think, so important about the work you two are doing. Can I ask you about? Another pillar is mastery and independence, relating to both boys and girls. What does this mean?Kasey Edwards:
Okay. So the idea is that real self-esteem and self-belief doesn't come from what we call word presence. And this is what our generation of parents got wrong. Like our parents and our teachers, they just told us that we were awesome and they thought that if they tell us often enough how awesome we are, then we'll believe it, Then we'll have self-esteem and then we'll go on and do great things. That does not work. First of all, kids know when you're lying to them. If you tell them that they are an awesome painting painter, when they're looking at their artwork and they think it sucks, they don't believe you. They just learn not to trust you. Mastery and independence are the key to self-belief. Your child will believe that he is competent and believe that he can do something when good, when he does something good. So what we say is only do for your child what they cannot do for themselves. So even little things like carrying your child's school bag. When you carry your boy's school bag or your girl's school bag, you're saying to them I don't think you're strong enough to do it yourself. Just chips away at their self-worth. They might not want to carry their school bag. And our girls? They've certainly had a few complaints to management about wearing their school bags. But again, our job as parents is not to have a perfect childhood for them. It is to teach them that they are strong enough, capable enough to do things themselves. And let me tell you, after a week of them carrying their own school bags, they will be stronger, they'll be fitter and they'll have the self-confidence to know that they can do it themselves. But part of mastery and independence is also about dealing with our own anxieties around our children failing. So as parents, it's really hard to watch our kids struggle and fail and be upset, and we often want to rush in and protect them from that. So if they don't get invited to a birthday party, we want to call the other parent and get them on the list. If they didn't get homework, we want to rush in so they don't get in trouble the next day. We made this mistake with our first daughter, Violet. We didn't let her struggle at anything because we were first-time parents and we were hovering. We didn't want our little girl to cry. So when she was at the playground, we would, if she was frustrated, we would pick her up and we'd lift her onto the climbing frame. So she didn't have to struggle right and we thought that was a good thing. But then we did all our research about mastery and independence and that you need to struggle in order to have self-belief, Because if you don't struggle and then achieve, you won't ever believe that you can overcome struggles and you won't ever be able to achieve. So with Ivy, our youngest daughter, when she was in the playground, we let her struggle. She was frustrated and instead of lifting her onto the climbing frame, we supported her in going. Well, can you think of another way to do it? Oh yeah, it is really hard. Maybe try again. And there was this one moment when I remember it so clearly. It was so profound that after weeks of Ivy struggling to get to the top of this climbing frame, she finally did it, and the look on her face of pride and confidence and self-belief. I could not have given that to her. Anyway. There was no word, there was no present, nothing. That self-esteem comes from within and it comes from the fertile soil of struggling. We have to let our kids struggle. We have to let them fail, because that's when they achieve and it's also when we give them hope. So the most hopeful people are not the ones who never struggle. They're the ones who have struggled and know that they can overcome their struggles and succeed.Lyndi Cohen:
What a gift to be able to give to them. I'm conscious of your time and I don't want to take up any more of your time, but I do want to get a seventh and a very important pillar, which is authenticity. What do you mean by that?Kasey Edwards:
At the core of authenticity, and this is very hard for parents. It's one of the hardest pillars. It's also my favorite one and the most important one, I think, is to love and nurture and accept the child that you have not the one you thought you were going to get. And when we're pregnant, when we think about having babies, we have an idea of this child that we're going to have. And they pop out and sometimes they can be wildly different from how we thought they were going to be and that can be really hard for a parent. That is a process of grief, but often what parents do is we call them chiseling. We've got stone parents and seed parents, the stone parents. They get out their chisel and they chisel away all the things that they don't like about their child and they try to create this perfect child that they conceived their child to be. And this means by pushing their kids, being overly critical, by choosing their hobbies and their extracurricular activities, by choosing their friends for them, by forcing them to be. The parent thinks is their definition of success and the idea is well, if I make my kid like that, then they'll be successful and then they'll like themselves. It doesn't work like that, because what will happen is your child will grow up feeling like they are never enough, because they're not that, they're not your creation, they are themselves. And if they'll think you know I'll only be loved if I get an A on my test. Mum will only accept me if I lose five kilos. Dad will only think I'm a good kid if I hang out with the popular kid. You can't ever like yourself under those conditions. So instead of being stone parents, we encourage parents to be seed parents, and this is the idea that your child is a precious seed. They already know who they are, and our job as parents is to provide the best environment that we can for that seed to grow and bloom in their own way. And so look at your child with curiosity and wonder who are they going to be? What do they love, what do they not like? What are their strengths? And for parents, this will make parenting so much more enjoyable because it takes the pressure off. You don't have to make your kid into something. You just have to love and nurture them and watch them bloom in their own way and in their own time. And so just one thing for your listeners to think about is spend most of your time finding, noticing and nurturing your child's strengths instead of trying to correct their weaknesses. Now, often parents are focusing on weaknesses. They go to parent-teacher interviews and it's all about what the kids not doing. Well, what they're struggling at. No, focus on all the things that they can do, because when you define yourself by what you can do rather than what you can't do, first of all you've got better self-esteem, you've got better mental health, but you're also going to be more successful. So just an example of that because parents say, well, that's great, but my kid can't read. I don't have the luxury of focusing on their strengths when they can't read. Let me give you an example of two kids One kid who has seed parents who focus on all the things that this child is good at. And this child goes yeah, look, I'm a really creative person, I can draw, I can sing, I can make anything beautiful, but I need extra help with maths. There's no impact on their self-esteem, it's just something that they need to work on. The kid who has his stone parents who've chiseled away and they're so focused on all the things that this child can't do. You know, Johnny can't do maths. Johnny failed his maths test. Johnny needs tutoring. Johnny, blah, blah blah. He goes to his maths tutoring and he goes yep, I hate maths, I hate me. He's stressed, he's shut down. Every single catch-up maths lesson is just further proof that he sucks, so he's not open to learning and so he will not succeed the way that the stone child will, because they're more open to learning and they're also going to have a much happier and healthier childhood and adulthood. So if you want your child to do well, spend most of your time focusing on and nurturing the things that they are good at that is so practical and so perfect.Lyndi Cohen:
Hey C Edwards, thank you so much for today. I am I'm enthralled that you are a guest on this podcast. I hope everyone listens to this episode and if you know a parent who you think could benefit from listening to this episode, please share it with them. I would love everyone to be able to hear your wise, wise words. You also have a resource that could benefit anyone who's listening.Kasey Edwards:
Yes, I'd like to give you a body confidence family health checklist. So it's not a test, but what it is it's a list of things that happen in families that can protect your child's body image and things that can corrode it. Because what we found in our research is there are people in the world who have really sturdy body images, who just don't, who are immune to all the pressures about dieting and beauty, and they just live their lives right. All of those people every single one of them grew up in families that did not care or prioritise beauty, and they also had families that were really nurturing to their body image. So we've put all of that in a list. So just have a look and see if there's tiny tweaks that you can make in your home to improve your children's body confidence.Lyndi Cohen:
And for anyone who wants to get that resource, including myself, I will leave a link to it in the show notes. Casey, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today.Kasey Edwards:
My pleasure. Thanks for having me, Lindy.