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Nov. 28, 2022

Episode 75: Just Listen!! with Doug Noll

In this episode DJ sat down with previous trial lawyer, now peacemaker and award-winning author, Doug Noll to discuss raising emotionally healthy and competent kids. Listen in as they discuss how human beings are more emotional than rational, that keeping your own emotions in check will help your child feel safe and secure and how you can be a successful emotional coach for your child.

Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA left a successful career as a trial lawyer to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, trainer, and a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts to training life inmates to be peacemakers and mediators in maximum-security prisons.

• [6:01] Doug talks about one of his passions is getting parents to stop invalidating their children's emotions, which in his view, is the most insidious and pervasive form of emotional abuse that exists. 
• [10:36] “Most of us were brought up to believe that human beings, what separates us from other animals is rationality or ability to reason. That is simply not true. It's a myth.” 
• [17:45] “They got there because the parents have the correct skills to teach them emotional competency, by reflecting back their emotions, and by modeling in the adult relationship.” 
• [24:51] Doug shares that you have a choice to raise emotionally healthy kids or you can raise emotionally unhealthy kids… It's a simple choice and is a skill you can master in four to six weeks.

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DJ Stutz  0:13  
We think you should know that Imperfect Heroes podcast is a production of Little Hearts Academy USA.

You're listening to Episode 75 of Imperfect Heroes - Insights Into Parenting, the perfect podcast for imperfect parents looking to find joy in their experience of raising children in an imperfect world. And I'm your host DJ Stutz. Douglas Noll specializes in helping people solve difficult, complex and intractable problems. As a lawyer turned peacemaker, I think that's hysterical. Doug has helped couples and families all over the world, learn how to communicate by listening, and along with his colleague Laurel Coffer. Doug was named California Attorney of the year in 2012. For their pro bono prison of Peace Project, where they have worked with inmates as they learn to deescalate problems and other inmates that they come in contact with. He has been voted as one of the best lawyers in america and is listed in the who's who of international commercial mediators, Doug's fourth book De-escalate How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less, is on the Amazon bestseller list. And he was generous enough to even have a special gift for listeners of Imperfect Heroes podcast. So be sure to listen to the end and get in on that. There's so much to learn. So let's get started.

You know, a couple of months ago, I was approached by an educational group called Counsel Academy. And I was asked if I was interested in putting together a certified program for tweens and teens who are interested in creating their own babysitting business. Of course, I was interested. So from December 18 to 22, we will meet for just one hour at 6pm Mountain Time, and students will learn about child development for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary aged kids. They're going to learn how to manage conflict, and what to do with the unexpected, such as power outage, storm hits, something like that. We're also going to talk about basic first aid, and how to approach your babysitting as a business. Where do you find safe clients? And how do you get repeat business, there will be a quiz at the end. And so you're going to get a certificate showing that you completed the course, all of the information on how to look up and get more information or even register is going to be in the show notes at the end.

When I was raising my kiddos, and I'm sure it's the same for you. I honestly hated it when they fought and argued. And sometimes the most unkind things were said, and feelings were hurt to the point where it actually took some time to get over it. And you can bet that in all my years of marriage, there have been disagreements, or sometimes things were said that you can hold on to for years. It's crazy. Then there are the times when we as parents failed to truly listen to what our kids are trying to tell us. We invalidate their feelings by telling them that you're okay. They're not really hurt or calm down. Right? These are things that can be really hurtful, and actually stunt our kid's growth and hurt their ability to have successful and meaningful relationships. Well enter Doug Noll... he helps families all around the world to truly listen to each other. And his claim is that if you put certain steps into action, you can actually end all arguments within a few months. What is he talking about? Actually, he has some great insights. Let's listen in. 

Thank you for choosing to spend this time with the Imperfect Heroes podcast. And today I have an amazing guest with a great message that is so important for all of us to really remember in our relationships with our kids, but really this works for all our relationships and that is a truly listening to our how are kids and Doug Noll,  I'm so glad you're here. Why don't you tell us a little bit about what's going on with you?

Doug Noll  5:08  
Thanks, DJ. Well, professionally, I'm a lawyer and Peacemaker. Sounds like a contradiction, doesn't it? A little bit. I was a trial lawyer for 22 years ago, I went back to school and got my master's degree in peacemaking and Conflict Studies. Because I was looking for other ways to resolve conflict other than through litigation. And I left the practice of law in 2000, to become a mediator and peacemaker, and along the way, developed some really deep listening skills based on my study of neuroscience. And I have found these skills to be incredibly powerful. For both parents. I've taught many, many parents how to do this and and colleagues and I work in places as dark as maximum security prisoners, training murderers, to be peacemakers to the Congressional Budget Office, training senior analysts how to de escalate members of Congress and their staff.

DJ Stutz  6:00  
That's got to be an adventure.

Doug Noll  6:01  
It works. It works everywhere. And I'm particularly thrilled to be here because one of my passions is getting parents to stop invalidating your children's emotions, which in my view, is the most insidious and pervasive form of emotional abuse that exists. And we can talk about that,

DJ Stutz  6:19  
I really think it's important to listen to the words that you just use, as we're talking about invalidating our children, and how abusive that can be. And I'm sure parents don't mean to do it. Sometimes, maybe they do. But I think in general parents are, they're just busy, they've got so much on their minds, that they forget these basic skills that are so key and important, not only to the development of the relationship between parent and child, but the development of the child's self definition. Who am I? How do I fit in? What labels are on me? And maybe you can take us a little bit down that road.

Doug Noll  7:07  
Sure. So if you're listening to this, think about a time when you maybe you were two or three years old, and you were outside running around and you fell down and you skinned your knee and it started to bleed a little bit and you started to cry. What were you told,

DJ Stutz  7:21  
don't cry,

Doug Noll  7:23  
don't cry. It's okay, it doesn't hurt, rub dirt in it put up on your big girl panties are big boys don't cry. And parents do this thinking they rationalize doing this thinking you're toughening their kids up. But really what they're doing is soothing their own anxiety around the child's emotions. And what our brains if we're not emotionally competent, than when we're in the presence of some something emotional like a child, our brains become anxious. And the worst thing we can do with the worst condition a human can be in is anxious, we subconsciously tell the child to start feeling that emotion so that I can start feeling better about myself. at a subconscious level, it's extremely selfish. And here's the thing that's even more destructive, a child's emotional centers of the brain don't even begin to come online. Until about 18 months of age and Allah Most parents don't know this. We are not born with emotions. We have to create emotions. It's a developmental process that again, starts at about 18 months. Every time you invalidate your child, you tell your child not to feel or to feel differently, or you judge you criticize, you put a child down for feeling emotions, you are destroying a part of that child's brain, and you are inhibiting their emotional development to the degree that for many, many, many, many adults, they stopped emotionally maturing at six years old. Can they grew up to be physical adults, but inside underneath all the facade, their six year olds, and I see this all the time in my work as a peacemaker. And as somebody who's accustomed to working in deep conflict, and I talked to parents all over the world. And we see the same thing over and over and over again. The ACEs study at UC San Diego, the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. And there are other studies like it all show that when you emotionally abuse your children by something as simple as invalidating their emotions, you are setting them up for failure later in life, relationship failure, academic failure, health failure, you name it. And it's so easy to fix. That's the thing that is so amazing, is we The solution is simple. So that's what's going on.

DJ Stutz  9:42  
Is there a time when it becomes harder to fix? Or I mean, is this something we can fix while we're adults ourselves that we can support one another as spouses and partners to help us grow and then that blesses our family as we're able to use those skills with our child.

Doug Noll  10:00  
Training. Yes, our brains are enormously plastic, and reprogrammable. And we can learn these skills as adults, even if we didn't have the benefit of having parents who taught us these skills, and then we can help ourselves. And we can help our children and grandchildren, I tell my clients practice these skills for four to six weeks, and you will stop all fights and arguments in your family for ever, never again, will you have a fight or argument once you learn to master these skills.

DJ Stutz  10:31  
So maybe you can take us a little bit down that path of where to begin.

Doug Noll  10:36  
So foundationally, you have to change the way you look at human nature. Most of us were brought up to believe that human beings, what separates us from other animals is rationality or ability to reason. That is simply not true. It's a myth. It's been propagated on us for over 4000 years by theologians and philosophers. But there's not one shred of science to support the idea that humans are predominantly rational. What neuroscience is teaching us today is that we're 98% emotional, and only 2% rational, and that it doesn't matter whether you're 90 years old, or nine years old, or nine months old, you're an emotional being. So the first insight that I want people to get is when you're dealing with your children, they are not little rational robots, they are extremely emotional beings. And they have to learn how to become emotionally competent, and they need coaching to do that they cannot do it themselves. And that's, that's where parents come in. So once you get that, then let's say you're confronted with a two and a half year old that's having a tantrum, the first thing you do is you ignore the angry words. Doesn't matter what the child is saying, you just ignore it means nothing. The second thing you do is you read the child's emotions. Now, in a tantrum, obviously, the first thing that's coming up his anger, but underneath that anger, or five, or six other emotions that need to be addressed. And so part of the process of learning all of these skills is learning how to structure the data, so you can see what the underlying emotions are, and I'll give you a sample of it in just a second. So you're gonna ignore the words, you're going to read the emotions, and here's the trick, you're going to reflect back the child's emotions with a simple use statement you are. So let's suppose I've got Jane and she's on the supermarket, aisle floor screaming or bloody head off,

DJ Stutz  12:26  
you know, been there.

Doug Noll  12:29  
So you would say, Jane, you are really angry, you're frustrated, you want the candy, and you can't have it and you, you, you don't have any control, and you just are really, really upset, and you're distressed, and you're unhappy, and you're sad. And you don't feel like anybody loves you right now. And you feel like you're all alone. And you don't get your own way. And you don't feel like anybody supporting you, or helping you or appreciating you. So there are about six or seven emotions in there. Right? What's going to happen is, that little child is going to look up and say yeah, and quiet down and the tantrum will be over. She can't help herself, because it's the way human brains are hardwired. There's brain scanning studies that show that when you label emotions in the way that I just demonstrated, the emotional centers of the brain are deactivated. And a part of the brain called the right ventral lateral prefrontal cortex is activated, causing immediate calm, I mean, within 90 seconds, that's the title of my fourth book, How to combat an angry person in 90 seconds or less. And it's based on this bio physiological response that our brains have. When our emotions are labeled back to us reflected back to us. It's extremely powerful, and extremely effective. And although it sounds a little weird and counterintuitive, and a little bit counter normative to tell somebody what they're feeling, once you get over that initial reticence and discomfort of thinking you're being presumptuous or rude, you'll find out that it's one of the most powerful skills you could ever learn. And it works brilliantly with children small, especially small children, all children. All children, including adolescents. Really, yeah.

DJ Stutz  14:17  
Interesting. So

Doug Noll  14:19  
I teach these skills to middle school teachers, among other people. And of course, the question is, well, what do I do with a 13 year old boy? And I said, he's got his head down. And the most you're gonna get out of him as a grunt. If you're lucky to get that right. Well, first of all, recognize that he's hid. The reason that adolescents become solid is because they feel emotionally unsafe. And they're going you know, they're going through the change of life and but because they have not been emotionally safe as children, in almost every family, this is done unintentionally by the most loving parents, but just our society just creates this. Now, not only are they not having a family support, because they're moving into adolescence, but they're confused and It's a mess, so they withdraw. So you would AFIC label, this process is called attic label, you would label this child's emotions, this young person's emotions. And as long as they don't walk away from you, you're reaching them, even though they may not give you any response. And the longer you epic, label them, and the longer they hang around, the more you know you're getting to them. Now, it may take 6789 10 different instances of you having to label the child's emotions. But eventually, the child is going to start feeling safe with you. And I have literally heard of children who were dedicated gamers, they were on their phones all the time. And I taught their parents how to do this. And within a month, the kids were putting down their devices, because they wanted to be with mom and dad, because they felt so emotionally safe. They're escaping the devices, because they're not safe, create safety, they'll come to you, because that's where they want to be.

DJ Stutz  15:56  
That's amazing. That's great. And so now, do we get to a point where we want our children to be able to internalize that, to understand how they're feeling without us labeling it for them?

Doug Noll  16:13  
Yes, of course, and they will get there very quickly. But if they're not taught how to internalize this, if they're not taught what their emotions are, they can't build up what we call the emotional database, they can't categorize. And when you can't categorize, you tend to have very low emotional intelligence, the moment you can start categorizing your emotions, and even becoming more and more granular, more and more specific about what you're feeling, the higher your emotional intelligence is. But you can't learn that on your own. As a child, you have to be coached into that by parents who are themselves, hopefully emotionally competent. That's the problem, of course, is that most parents are not emotionally competent. They've never been taught this stuff, how would they know how to do this? Right? To break the cycle, we've got to start teaching parents how to listen to and reflect emotions both between themselves as partners and parents and also with

DJ Stutz  17:06  
and imagine if they can do this together as partners and parents, the security that brings into the home the longevity of the marriage, and yeah, and everyone wins.

Doug Noll  17:22  
That's right. The studies show that when you start labeling it a child's emotions that two or three years old, by the time they're 10, or 11, or 12, they're usually to grade levels academically ahead of their peers. They're far more mature, and well adjusted and resilient than their peers. And they were extremely well liked by everybody, because they are so emotionally balanced. It didn't get that way by magic. They got there because the parents have the correct skills to teach them emotional competency, by reflecting back their emotions, and by modeling in the adult relationship. What an emotionally competent relationship looks like.

DJ Stutz  17:59  
Um, so a couple of things, you said, there's really got my mind going.

Doug Noll  18:06  
I have that effect on people. You do.

DJ Stutz  18:09  
You do. In fact, when we first talked, I got off. And I was talking to my husband about all this stuff that you were saying. And now, I thought it was brilliant. But so you're talking about resiliency. So we come into a time right now in society where there's a lot of things up in the air. And people the adults around you aren't particularly resilient. One of the examples that I use this yes, I'm old enough to remember the Kennedy assassination. I was in first grade. And the thing that frightened me most was we were out on the playground, the teachers come up, all the teachers are crying. They don't tell us what's gone on. They just tell us to go in, get our coats were going home. Parents didn't come and sign us out. They just shoot us out of the school. Assuming we knew where we were going. Back then that was probably a pretty good assumption. But then I got home and I walk in and my mom's sitting in the middle of the family room folding laundry and sobbing. And I didn't feel safe because the grownups around me. Were not understanding how to manage their own emotions at that time. And that was a very scary time for me. So if I'm an adult listening to this, and I'm thinking, Oh, Gosh, I wonder what my own competencies are with emotions. Is there something that we can do or think about to kind of give ourselves an idea of where we are

Doug Noll  20:01  
Well, there are lots of emotional intelligence assessments on the web. If you just type in emotional intelligence assessment, a bunch of free ones come up. And that's probably as good a place to start as any I mean, there are, some are better than others. And a lot of people are trying to lure you into scams about picking classes to teach you emotional intelligence. You can't learn emotional intelligence, you can only learn emotional competency, but go out to the web. And just and you might even put in parental emotional intelligence test. And I'm sure you'll come up with people who have developed some quizzes to measure your emotional competencies apparent and see where you stand. Now take it with a grain of salt, because they're probably trying to sell you something. So they're gonna doubt they're gonna downgrade you a little bit. The real trick to knowing whether or not you've got these skills is are you able to ignore the words? And just pay attention to the emotions and reflect back the emotions with a use statement? If you can do that? Then you are, you're well, well above average in terms of your abilities. Okay.

DJ Stutz  21:05  
And so now, how do we get our kids to start reflecting? Let's say you've got siblings who are just biting around? Yep. Yeah,

Doug Noll  21:16  
they're gonna learn by imitation. I mean, it depends. It's all age appropriate, right? But the younger ones, the younger ones are going to learn by imitation. So if you just are patient and ethic label the children, even when they're arguing you don't discipline the you don't tell them to stop. You just intervene. Take one and say you're feeling that you are you are you are, then turn the other one. You are you are you are until you get the nodding of the head of Yes. And then say, Oh, how do you guys want to solve this problem? And they'll negotiate it out themselves? Yeah. And that's all you have to do you do that? 20 or 30 times. And it won't be long before mom, you're sad. Mom, you're really angry. They'll start labeling you, as it's really cute to see. But they're just they'll just do it automatically. Because they'll see you doing it, and they'll figure it out. You don't have to teach them anything.

DJ Stutz  22:05  
Isn't that amazing? I know that as a teacher, I really tried to do that. Having kids be able to express how they're feeling how they viewed whatever the situation was that got them riled up, and then listening to the other kid doing the same. But I never was told to say you are this you are that we were always told to leave it up to the kids to say I am I see you shaking your head? Yeah.

Doug Noll  22:44  
This is the problem with the myth of rationality. You know, we our educational system is all based on the fact that we're rational beings, a four year old is not a rational being, or you're a 40 year old is not a rational. I was just thinking that. No, they aren't we aren't we're not rational, we're emotional. Were 98% emotional and one 2% rational, how do you learn, you can't expect kids to have competencies that adults don't even have. The child doesn't even have a working strong working vocabulary for emotion. So at the thinking that a child can say I am angry and has this has the self awareness to be able to say that is absurd. It's absurd. You have to label the child's emotions. Now eventually, as you practice ethic, labeling as you as you teach the children through modeling, and by experience, they will learn how to label their own emotions. And they will then learn how to self regulate. Because as you learn how to affect label, you're learning emotional self awareness, and you're learning emotional self regulation, they will learn it automatically as long as you coach them by helping them label their own emotional experience in the moment. And it's critical to recognize that the child's emotions, just not one emotion at a time, usually six or seven emotions at a time. And you have to label all of the emotions, even the subtle ones that are not quite as obvious. Because the child was having that experience and doesn't know what the experience is. And it's just reacting to the physiological experience of have an effect. It doesn't have a way of labeling, it doesn't have the vocabulary, it doesn't have the experience. And how do they learn they learn by getting mad by throwing 10 temper tantrums by fighting and arguing. That's how they learn the stuff at the vet. All that stuff that we think is so negative is actually necessary for them to experience the extremes of negative and positive emotions so they can begin to understand all the possibilities that are between the extremes. And that's what we call emotional maturity. And what do we do as parents we shut it down? Don't do that. Stop arguing. Stop fighting. You're driving me crazy.

DJ Stutz  24:48  
I've had enough. I've

Doug Noll  24:51  
had enough of that. None of that is helpful. Yeah. More importantly, it's abusive. Yeah, it's abusive. and you got a choice you can raise Emotionally Healthy Kids, you can raise emotionally unhealthy kids. It's a simple choice and learning a skill is, you know, takes four to six weeks to master these skills really? Okay, it doesn't take long at all. You just got to practice it. It's mostly a little bit of coaching and some practicing. And it changes everything. I mean, I, I've worked in maximum security prisons for the last 12 years finding murderers. How to be peacemakers. This is the first skill we teach them in prison. It invariably the violence starts once they start learning how to listen like this. I mean, if I can turn a murderer into a peacemaker, what's the problem with a two year old?

DJ Stutz  25:40  
Exactly? Pretty easy. Yeah. Yeah. And I think too, a lot of times, our kids wind up getting frustrated, because we're not taking the time to really listen, especially with a two year old. So for me, people talk about the terrible twos. And I think they're the terrific twos. Yeah, I agree. You're learning so much. And it's such a time of amazing growth. To me. And this is just me, you can tell me I'm full of hooey.

Doug Noll  26:10  
No, I agree with you. But

DJ Stutz  26:12  
part of the problem with our two year olds is that they know what they want. They don't have the vocabulary, necessarily, to express that. So just an example, my oldest daughter, well, she was only 18 months, but whatever. And she sat down in the middle of the kitchen one day and just started saying she wanted to meet you. Meech, I don't know. And so she's getting more upset as I'm not understanding what it is she wants. She's in the kitchen. So I'm figuring it's something here, and I'm pulling things out. I'm out of the cupboard. Do you want this? Do you want that? No, meet you meet you meet you. Oh, my gosh, I have no idea what this is. And eventually, it's coming up to nap time. So I thought Forget it. I'm just gonna make a sandwich. You're gonna go to bed, get out the peanut butter in the jam. And I put it all together. So she didn't just want bread. She wanted the sandwich. And somehow it was the sandwich. That was the meat you know how that came about. But from then on, I knew I made you mean sandwich and I could meet her needs. She knew what she wanted. I was the idiot. Right? Exactly. She's been very expressive.

Doug Noll  27:31  
But she she being expressive, but she doesn't have the cognitive ability, right to articulate what exactly what it is that she wants in a language that we can understand. And it's the same is true for emotions. They're learning to create, the kids are learning how to create emotions. Because we create emotions, we construct emotions, and we're not born with them. We're born with something else, we're going to be perfect. And we have to learn how to create and construct emotions. And so they have to learn that and the only way they're going to learn that effectively is if they got parents who were willing to coach them. And this is the same thing about discipline. I said, Never discipline a child until they're calm, right? I'll make breaks, boundaries, breaks rules, does something that's inappropriate or wrong. The first thing you do is you deescalate that child by leaving labeling their emotions. And once they calm down, then again, age appropriate, you can talk to them about what the consequences should be. And my experience has been when you start doing math, the kids often pick consequences that are more severe that you would have picked. I've seen that happen. Yeah. And they will but but they do it from a place of calm, not from a place of escalation. And so again, it's a different kind of mindset. And the problem is that parents have that were never raised in this mindset, they've never been raised with this sort of model. So it becomes very difficult in the beginning to implement this kind of parenting because it's, it's, there's no reference point for it. It's very, very difficult. And you're not going to find many parenting experts out there talking like I'm talking, because most of them don't study neuroscience, they don't understand the neuroscience of early childhood development. And even the even the guys like Gordon Newman in Vancouver, who's a brilliant child developmental psychologist, I watch a lot of his lectures, and he doesn't even understand the concept of epic labeling. If I could get him, I never met the man. I just think he's brilliant in terms of what I watch. He needs epic labeling in his system, and it would be pure genius. But for whatever reason, it hasn't. Oh, of course, the first brain scan Excel, it only came out in 2007. So it's not even 12 years old. Brand new knowledge. We're still

DJ Stutz  29:42  
figuring all of this out. I mean, we're in the preschool level of understanding. That's right. All of this if we're even that far.

Doug Noll  29:50  
That's right. But but at least at least the science is out there. And you know, as a person who's devoted to peace and eliminating conflict, I'm making it my A mission to talk to as many people as I possibly can and get these skills out there so people can start learning how to use them. Because I've seen in the 10s of 1000s of people that I've coached and trained over the last 15 years, I've just seen amazing transformations. Amazing.

DJ Stutz  30:16  
That's got to be so fulfilling for you, but also fulfilling for those people that you're talking to. And when you see that light bulb go on,

Doug Noll  30:26  
well, it's amazing. I just get a big grin on my face. Yeah, you got it.

DJ Stutz  30:33  
And I think, for me, that's what led me into teaching is that light bulb moment seeing the kids, you know, oh, wait, I get it. And especially with me with early childhood, so I never even thought third grade, I kept second grade and younger, but helping them that this is a big part of what we need to do, as parents and as teachers. And there have been times when I've seen teachers who they shouldn't be there but cruel. Yeah, they're absolutely cruel. I've seen teachers who, you know, with a challenging child, they'll see the child coming up, and I was hoping Johnny would be absent today. And I'm like, Wait, you can't say that? Well, I don't say it in front of him. Well, they pick up on this, that it doesn't matter if you never say it. I hear parents that say, well, we only argue when the kids are sleeping.

Doug Noll  31:33  
Right? What ever, but why not? Why not just stop arguing all together and learn how to listen to each other?

DJ Stutz  31:41  
There you are. Yeah. And what a great gift that you're giving your kids I mean, the teenage years, I, I think they're gonna be hard no matter what, that's just how society is Junior High is just cruel. I've got a granddaughter that just started in junior high this year. And, you know, all the dramas like they're, if there's no drama, they've got to make it up to have drama. And it's this whole big thing of Look at me, I'm embroiled in all of this. And if you have a child that is stable, with their understanding, and and how to manage with people, you've really given them a gift.

Doug Noll  32:25  
Oh, you have? Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the kids create all that drama, because it's the only way they can create safety around them with the flex everything away from them. Remember, they're emotionally, they don't feel emotionally safe. So they create the drama to deflect everything away from them. And the most important thing you can do as a parent is create emotional safety for your children. And parents will all say, Well, I do. Now you don't. You invalidate you dismiss you ridicule you criticize. You think you're toughening your kid up, you're really damaging your child. Yeah. Get out of that old mindset. It's, it's, it's horrible and devastating to the child.

DJ Stutz  33:05  
So I'm really into like having a plan. This is part of my program, is we come in, we not only have a plan of how to manage our kids, so much like what you're doing with labeling emotions, and giving them permission to cry. I've never will tell a child to stop crying. Right. And they actually stopped crying much faster once they've got permission. That's right, one thing.

Doug Noll  33:33  
Well, and the other thing you realize is crying is the brain self protective mechanism. Because when they cry, what hat what's happening is that the neurotoxins that accumulate in the brain have got to get flushed out. The only fast way to flush them out is by crying. Crying is really healthy.

DJ Stutz  33:46  
Yeah, yeah. But we keep telling them Don't cry. Don't cry.

Doug Noll  33:50  
Because it upsets us. We get anxious around there. Yes,

DJ Stutz  33:53  
yes. And so if you're saying, Wow, you're really sad. Or let's take the first day of school, just for an example. And I'm a kindergarten teacher. I guarantee you I've got some kids crying. Oh, sure.

Doug Noll  34:05  
They're scared. They're scared or frightened, or anxious. They feel abandoned. They feel loved. They're confused. I mean, all the emotions are going going on with a six year old. Oh,

DJ Stutz  34:18  
yeah. And so for me to say, Okay, I know that you're worried Mommy's not going to come back. She's coming back. But I understand that you're scared and you're worried. I try. And I usually will have an aide in the room depending on what school I'm at and what's going on. But so that we can have the kids who need to cry. Yeah. Let's all cry together, you know, and let's talk about our mommies. And I'll give them timers or personal schedule, a picture schedule. So then when all these are gone, mommy's coming and they can see what's going on. But I'm glad you love your mommy. And I'm glad that you want to be with her, that's a special thing. And you do get to be with her. As soon as we do all these things she will come. And maybe some of those kinds of things, I don't know if that's the right way to go. Or if there's better ways.

Doug Noll  35:20  
Well, I mean, what you're doing is helping that child structure, the time. So the child is not left confused, and feeling hopeless and despair, like he or she been completely abandoned by saying, Okay, we just got to do all these different things. And then, as they get checked off, the child is learning some discipline, and some, and is learning how to delay gratification, right, which is really important. And so it's just part of the learning process. And in the beginning, there is going to be upset,

DJ Stutz  35:48  
right. But you have to be away with that, you have

Doug Noll  35:52  
to be okay with that. You have to not get this, another thing that parents don't learn that they have to learn is you cannot get anxious around your child's emotions. If you just become reactive, when your child acts out, or gets emotional, you're just you're just recapitulating what you did at your child's age, only you're doing it in adult body.

DJ Stutz  36:15  
And so what about those parents, like in some of the parents that I coach, and we have to try to really work through this. So they're at the store, they picked up their kids, they've got to run to the store to get some things and then they're gonna go home, and they're going to do homework and whatever, and their kids at the store, and all of a sudden, they're on the floor of the store, kicking and screaming, over, they wanted the cocoa puffs or they wanted something, right. And a lot of times I have parents that are embarrassed, people are going to call and turn me in or you know, whatever. And the reality is, and what I had to find out, I was one of those parents, I'll tell you when my kids were really young, and especially with my ADHD kid who threw tantrums, at will, like it was it was amazing. But I instead of really concentrating on what does my child need right now. It was very easy for me. And I didn't do this all the time. I was a grown up sometimes. But it was very easy for me to look around and see who's watching who's looking who's judging, who's doing whatever to get him to stop, or we've got to leave or whatever. And so how do I help those parents? Really just calm down? And don't worry. And the reality is most other people are not thinking, Oh, that terrible parent, but they're thinking, Oh, sweetie, remember those days?

Doug Noll  37:55  
Exactly. And so here's, here's the beauty of it. If you start practicing, if ethic, labeling with your kids, you are going to develop an inner calm within yourself, the more you can experience ethic labeling and emotional reflection to your children at home, when you're in public, it's going to be very natural for you to immediately go there and you're not going to feel panicky and you're not going to feel judged. Because you've got this intercom you say, Okay, I see my child's being emotional, I know exactly what to do. You get down on the floor and label their emotions and get a little conversation going. And within seconds, it's all over with. The other thing that is really important to note is that by doing by raising your children this way, everything is much faster. Rather than arguing with a child or telling a child to stop doing what they're doing. If you simply reflect and validate their emotions, you'll calm them down 100% faster than if you try to fight with them. There's no point in fighting, just calm down. And then you can have a discussion with an age appropriate discussion with him about what what's going to happen. But calming him down takes less than 90 seconds, less than 90 seconds. Their brains are hardwired for that. And if you just learn the skill, you can communicate down usually in 30 to 40 seconds, doesn't matter, they can be in a complete meltdown. And you can have them perfectly calm and happy in 40 seconds. It's that it's that powerful.

DJ Stutz  39:19  
helped me with this one thing. One of the things that I've seen teachers and parents use, and I've used it myself from time to time, but you have to use it at the right time. And I think that's the hard thing for people to realize. There's a time for this. There's a time for that. But to sit down and say look at Susie's face. Look at her. She's sad and you made her sad because you killed her, or you took away her thing and now she's sad. What are you going to do? Do you see what I'm saying?

Doug Noll  39:55  
Yeah, it's all shaming.

DJ Stutz  39:56  
Yes. So we want them to be aware They're of how they do people. But that's not

Doug Noll  40:03  
you teach it in a different way right now to teach them about that. And they the behaviors have to be learned. And they have to learn about external shame helps build internal shame, which is important part of the art control social control mechanisms. But rather than shaming the child externally, saying you did you were bad, you're awful you did that. Because it's kids will take that literally and think that they truly are awful human beings not Oh, yeah, they'll take it literally. You just say, you've got to kind of deconstruct what happened. And hopefully you can say, you're really angry and you're frustrated. And Susie didn't cooperate with you. And that made you really mad. And that frustrated you? And you felt like you didn't have any control and help us you felt like we're gonna lose something important. And so you, you did you just act it out? And the Chelsea Yeah, yeah. Okay. How do you think Suzy feels? Yes. If Suzy is there, you could turn to Susie and say Susie, you felt ethically will hurt. And then you got these two little toddlers there. And you talk to the offender and say how do you think Suzy felt? Suzy, what do you how do you feel about this? What and she'll say I got really angry and mad. And then you tell the the other one said, Tell Susie how she felt when the whole thing will take one minute, two minutes.

DJ Stutz  41:27  
Okay, that's a whole new step that that I'm not used to is tell. Yeah, yeah.

Doug Noll  41:37  
What better way to teach your child emotional self control than to have to look at a peer that was offended in some way and tell them what they're feeling to understand in their own self. What harm they caused. What better way without shaming them.

DJ Stutz  41:53  
Yeah, that's amazing. Okay, that little no much. My back's

Doug Noll  42:00  
so much faster. Yeah. I mean, you just reverse it, Susie, Susie, what do you think Johnny was feeling when he was when he grabbed your teddy bear? What do you think he was what was going through him? And now she's gonna learn empathy. She's gonna learn how to what was he feeling? I got to figure out what he was feeling. And then I'll tell Johnny what he was feeling. Well, he was. He was angry. Because he didn't feel like anybody was paying attention to him. And he felt lonely and sad. And abandoned. Yatta Yeah, ma'am. Can you imagine the teaching moment? Right there? Oh, my gosh, taking two minutes.

DJ Stutz  42:33  
Yeah, that is great. And I think sometimes as parents and you know, as a mother of five, I had my hands full. Oh,

Doug Noll  42:41  
yeah. We don't think we have time. Yeah, exactly. Yes. And what I'm telling you is yes, you're correct. You don't have time. But this is going to this, you don't have time to have the arguments continue. And you think it's faster to throw the kids in other rooms with that dinner and tell them to go and no, that doesn't solve the problem. It's just going to come back and haunt you another day? What did you took an extra 30 seconds, and have them each label each other's feelings. And it was over and done with forever. And they also learned something really important. Down the road, you're gonna save yourself days, if not years of heartache, because your children are going to be so emotionally mature.

DJ Stutz  43:17  
Right. And I think it's like with a ton of things with kids, when we're first teaching them a new skill, a new routine. Okay, this is our bedtime routine, when you start getting that down. It takes a lot of time to those, get them to do all of that. But the benefit down the road. Huge, is huge. Yeah. And so I guess the question is, you're either going to spend the time now or you're going to spend the time later. But either way, you're going to spend the time,

Doug Noll  43:48  
you're going to spend the time. And you might as well do it now when they're really learning. And you can teach them the right skills from the beginning. So they got a strong emotional foundation to build on. And play. There's not many parents who were willing to do this work. Right? They're young, I mean, they're in their 20s. What are they? Right and 20s and 30s. They're really young, and, and they didn't have any good role models themselves. So it's really hard to get these ideas across to young parents really hard to get

DJ Stutz  44:17  
across. It really is. And I think what's coming up now is got a generation of adults who are emotionally incompetent, who are looking for others to solve their problems, because they don't feel like they have what it is they get really frustrated when they don't have their problems solved for them. And so we're looking at the societal thing. It's like the divide. I don't care what side of the aisle you're on. We're all mad at each other. Right? Right. And it's gotten to the point where, if I disagree with you on this one thing, I have to hate everything about you. That's right. And that's just not mature.

Doug Noll  44:57  
No, of course, and without getting too political. hold that there are political leaders who profit from that. And they do it on purpose. Yeah. People ask me, How do I vote? I say I vote for the political leader that leads me to the light not to the one that leaves me in the darkness. Absolutely. And I don't care. I don't care about

DJ Stutz  45:13  
conservative leader behind their name. That's right. Yeah. I'll follow you. That's it. I just want truth. Well, truth, truth, and it's the truth hurts. It hurts. But it's the truth. Right? Exactly. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Oh, gosh, I love talking to you. Wonderful. So if our parents in the teachers that listen, if they want to get more information about you, and what you've got going on,

Doug Noll  45:41  
I've got a webpage for only for the people that are listening to this podcast, oh, only people would ever get access to it, it's in the website is I'll send it to you, but it's the website is Doug

DJ Stutz  46:00  
I'm gonna do that.

Doug Noll  46:01  
On that page, our core things. Number one, at the bottom of the page, there is any free book that talks all about everything that we've been talking about. So if you don't have any money, you get a free book, maintenance there, you can also go to Amazon to buy a copy of the Escalade. workbook, which is a really good place to start. And then the next, the next thing you can get is $490, you can get my deescalate online video course, nice will teach you all the skills we've been talking about more oriented towards calming angry people, children or adults. And then the last course, which I'm giving everybody an $800 discount off of this, it's my two courses on developing emotional competency. This is a deep dive into how to develop emotional competency. And I recommend that course because it's I feel really deep with it. And if you're a parent or a teacher really committed to understanding that we are emotional beings, not rational beings, and what are the implications of that? And what are the skills I have to have to in the 21st century, have emotional mastery that's, that's I designed the course for people that are interested in learning that sort of stuff.

DJ Stutz  47:13  
Wow, that's amazing. You be the person that's helping your child. Imagine what would that would do with your relationship and your abilities. And so, man, what, that's a steal. That's,

Doug Noll  47:27  
yeah, I mean, and, you know, the courses will teach you everything that we're talking about step by step by step by step comes with a workbook and roleplay exercises to practice. And, you know, if you, I always tell people do this course with a trusted friend to the week was with a trusted friend, maybe your partner, but maybe a trusted friend. That way, it's two for one, you only one person buy his course, you know, you get double dip on it. There you go. And then you can do the whole thing on a Saturday afternoon. Wow. So if you got somebody who wants to watch football and you're not interested in football, just grab a friend and go into another room and pull it pull it up and do the course for three or four hours.

DJ Stutz  48:06  
Perfect. I love it. All right, dad. And I had just just say one thing. So my dad, his name is Douglas no Benyon Ah, is that cool? I know.

Doug Noll  48:22  
My where does he

DJ Stutz  48:23  
know? It's no E L? Oh, no. Okay, no. pronounced it. No. And so Douglas, no Banyan is my dad's name. So I just had to throw that in there. So that's funny. Isn't that fun? Yeah. So before we go, I always ask my guests the same question. How do you define a successful parent?

Doug Noll  48:44  
Well, I think a successful parent is one who is able to raise emotionally competent children. And that means that a successful parent has to learn to be emotionally competent, himself or herself. And then learn how to coach children, not discipline, move out of this authoritarian, it's my way or the highway, go to your room move out of that old mindset, which is no longer no longer needed nor unnecessary, and move into a mindset of being a coach. I'm a coach. My two year old, I'm coaching my two year old, I'm coaching my three year old, I'm coaching my 16 year old, different levels of coaching, obviously, coaching and and the definition was a good parent ism, and emotionally stable, competent, Resilient Child.

DJ Stutz  49:30  
Wow. I love it. You nailed it. Nailed that. Well, Doug, no, thank you for spending this time and inspiring us to do greater and better things. I so appreciate it. We're gonna be sure and get that link in the show notes. So if any of my listeners didn't happen, have a pen and paper at the ready. They can always just scroll down and it'll be right there. And what a great gift for just the listeners for my podcast. Stay really appreciate that.

Doug Noll  50:01  
You're welcome, DJ, it's been great talking to you.

DJ Stutz  50:03  
Thank you same here. Okay, let's recap. Number one, human beings are more emotional than rational, including adults. And the number that Doug found that we are 98% emotional, and only 2% rational. Number two, when your child is having a tantrum, ignore the words and pay attention to the emotions. Number three, help your child by labeling their emotions for them. And the studies have shown that children who have parents that help them do this are actually two grades ahead academically by third grade, and they are well liked by their peers. Number four, when adults are struggling with their own emotions, the children around them will feel unsafe and unsure. Number five, taking an emotional assessment could help you figure out where you are, and what next steps you are ready to take. Number six, we are just at the very beginning of understanding the neuroscience of brain development. There's so much more to come. Number seven, I loved when he mentioned that we are actually coaches to our children. And I couldn't agree more. That is the key purpose of the Cicerone Society, which you can find on So a Cicerone is a coach, a tutor, or mentor, and in the community that we have developed in the Cicerone Society, we help each other do just that. Don't miss out on the free book and the things that he has on his website, just for Imperfect Heroes, listeners. I have been on that website, and it is great. I also downloaded the free ebook, and it is amazingly helpful. So the link is in the show notes. If you would like more information on Doug, or on his book, again, just go to the show notes. And in fact, if you just go to that link that's only for Imperfect Heroes, podcast listeners, you're going to get everything that you need right there. 

Holy smokes. We have so much going on at Little Hearts Academy USA. We just finished the five day challenge on living in gratitude, and the open enrollment in the Cicerone society earlier this just this month, we have more events and opportunities to engage and get the support that you need to better enhance your confidence as a parent, create the path and blaze the trail of raising independent, kind and successful children. So go ahead and sign up for our newsletter. You're going to find it on the website, And of course, the link is in the show notes. So next week, I will be talking with someone who is in their final year of completing their master's in family and marriage counseling. She has a three year old and a brand new beautiful baby girl. Her husband is very busy. He has a stressful job with a crazy schedule. And Christmas is coming. How does she do it all? Check it out and see next week. So until next time, let's find joy in parenting.

Transcribed by

Douglas E. Noll, JD, MAProfile Photo

Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA


Douglas E. Noll, JD, MA left a successful career as a trial lawyer to become a peacemaker. His calling is to serve humanity, and he executes his calling at many levels. He is an award-winning author, teacher, trainer, and a highly experienced mediator. Doug’s work carries him from international work to helping people resolve deep interpersonal and ideological conflicts to training life inmates to be peacemakers and mediators in maximum-security prisons.

His fourth book, De-Escalate: How to Calm an Angry Person in 90 Seconds or Less, was published by Beyond Word Publishing in September of 2017. De-Escalate is now in four languages and its second printing.

He is the co-founder of Prison of Peace, and creator of the Noll Affect Labeling System. In 2012, Doug was honored by California Lawyer Magazine as California Attorney of the Year.