Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Andee Martineau of Connect Method Parenting Is Helping To Change Our World
Emotions aren’t a defect or a problem to be fixed. They are a critical ingredient in your emotional development and your child’s emotional development. You grow up emotionally by feeling your emotions. You get better at swimming by swimming in water. You get better at feeling by feeling your emotions. When you intentionally experience the entire cycle of an emotion, you become a little more emotionally mature. It isn’t something you have to figure out. It’s just something you must feel and experience.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andee Martineau.
Andee Martineau is a parenting coach and mom of six who specializes in helping parents raise their kids without yelling, ultimatums, or bribes. Using her Connect Method Parenting techniques, she has taught over 10,000 moms how to feel more in control of family life, how to stress less, how to get their kids to listen, and more. Andee is a former registered nurse who brings to her client’s years of hands-on experience raising her 6 children (ages 14–22) and coursework in developmental psychology as well as certifications in life coaching and integrative life coaching.
Andee’s anti-disciplinary strategies and expertise turned into a best-selling book, Connect Method Parenting. When she’s not spreading her message that parenting is about connecting and not correcting, you can find her relaxing at the creek next to her home. She lives in an 830sq foot cabin in the woods with her husband, children and their sheepadoodle, Leia.
You find her online at: https://connectmethodparenting.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Totally! You could say being the oldest of seven children is what led me to where I am today, a parenting coach. Not because I was a natural at nurturing my six siblings, but because I wasn’t.
By the time I was 5 or 6 I was trying to order my younger siblings around. By the time I was 8 I tried to take over the chore system in our house because I wanted to be in charge.
A few years ago we found a cassette recording of me singing a song to my sibling where the main lyrics consisted of me saying “Dance around me.” I was mortified when I listened to it as an adult.
The reality was, I wanted to be in charge from the time I was young.
I even wanted to control what fun looked like.
Each summer we went on a vacation to the mountains with my cousins.
I would write a play to perform at the end of that vacation.
I’d cast myself as the star and my cousins with supporting roles and extras.
Then I’d bribe my cast to come to the daily “play” practice (which no one wanted to do during our family camping trip). But their bad attitudes didn’t stop me. I’d bring otter pops and red vine licorice to lure them in. I was persistent.
I cringe now thinking about my “control freak” tendencies.
But I think it was my incessant drive to control and get things perfect that eventually broke me and helped me and led me to learning how to let it all go and finally discover the power of connection. Something I was pretty oblivious to as a girl.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
Charlotte’s Web for sure! My mom read it to me and loved it.
The impossibility of a spider being able to write on her web and a pig being able to communicate opened something up for me. Part of my 8-year-old mind believed the story was true. I’d always hated spiders, but then I didn’t. I was in love with Charlotte the spider. My imagination took root and I felt myself challenging my thinking.
The world became a little less black and white. The lines between what I thought was wrong and right blurred a bit. If Charlotte could help create a new destiny for Wilbur, what could I create? Maybe anything was possible.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
A few months after the pandemic hit in 2020, I was asked to do a FB Live about parenting in the pandemic for a company that made specialty children’s clothing. At the scheduled time I jumped into FB in the group and went Live and started sharing what I’d prepared. Twenty minutes into my FB Live I got a message asking where I was. I’d been Live in the wrong FB group. I had no idea what group I’d just gone Live in. They’d been so responsive I was sure it was the right group. Having no idea how to end I launched into an awkward pause, before I ended the Live in the mysterious group and jumped into the right FB group. I’m still not sure where I accidently went Live.
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
Twenty years ago, I found myself reading dozens of books on parenting, trudging to weekend workshops, and watching online webinars trying to raise my six kids. It was daunting, time consuming not to mention I realized that most parenting advice is focused on theory instead of practice and kids instead of the adults. My book pays attention to the triggers and blocks that parents themselves have that prevent them from showing up the way they want to for their kids. They know better but they can’t do better–and that’s incredibly frustrating for a parent.
My goal for my book is to unflinchingly expose the misconceptions that hold parents back from being calm and connected with their kids, so their kids actually WANT to listen to them. In the book I use plain language to unpack why the corrective parenting methods of timeouts, punishments, and rewards don’t work and I show parents what to do about it. It’s powerful stuff, all backed by hard, scientific evidence.
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
Let me see…I think I’ll go with the Baby Powder Blizzard. It’s interesting and I think most parents can relate to the simplicity yet ridiculous situations our kids create for us sometimes. Here’s how I described what happened straight from my book.
I walked into the playroom and gasped. A thin white film covered every square inch of the room, including the electronics. My three littles were covered head to toe. My blood was boiling.
Let me back up.
Ten minutes earlier I was on top of the world.
It was 9:30 am and I’d already…
- Gotten my oldest to school on time, looking handsome with a healthy lunch.
- Cleaned up breakfast way before it was time to make lunch (which was an anomaly).
- Got my baby down for a morning nap (hallelujah).
- Folded and switched laundry.
- Made my bed.
Then I realized how abnormally quiet it had been. I got worried. It’d been a solid thirty minutes since I’d heard a peep. I walked to the playroom and heard noise. Phew they were still alive. I slowly peeked in so I wouldn’t disturb, and gasped.
It looked like the room had been hit by a blizzard. Then I saw the gigantic Costco size bottle of baby powder on the floor. Every bodily crevice, electronic device (the DVD player and Nintendo were ruined), shelf, drawer, and toy closet was covered.
It would take hours to clean up. I was exhausted just looking at it.
I flipped out.
I blamed, “You guys make me so mad.”
I lectured, “You guys know better than this. This is not something…”
I punished, “No friends over for the next two weeks.”
Then I PAUSED.
I’m not sure why or how the pause happened but it happened. I went from this scenario…
Seeing Baby powder all over the playroom and thinking it was a nightmare, and that I couldn’t believe the kids did this. Feeling angry and then blaming lecturing, punishing, and yelling. Which was bound to have created a terrible day full of messes and misbehaving kids and lots of consequences
To…seeing baby powder all over the playroom and instead thinking my kids are not trying to make my life hard; they were experimenting like little kids do. Which led to me feeling acceptance which led me to look into my children’s eyes, laugh, take a picture of the mess, before we cleaned the mess up. I was able to clean up the playroom quickly without consequences and ended up having a great day with the kids. I felt closer to them, and I felt more confident in my ability to not flip out when the kids did crazy kid things later.
As I deconstructed this later, I was intrigued by what had happened. It all seemed to boil down to my thoughts about the Baby Powder Blizzard. It got me curious about how I could change my thoughts intentionally and on demand. Years later I found this quote by Buddha that sums up what happened during my Baby Powder Blizzard moment…
We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world. -Buddha
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
After working with parents one on one and in a group setting for a few years my clients and friends started saying they wished what I was teaching was in a book.
Ha! I thought. I’ll probably never do that.
I was busy enough trying to juggle teaching Connect Method Parenting to parents and being a parent to my own six kids. I didn’t want to add anything else to my plate. So I smiled and shrugged off the suggestion.
But it kept happening. People kept asking when I was going to do a podcast, a retreat or a book, and I couldn’t imagine doing any of those things. It felt impossible to add another thing to my list of to dos.
Then one day I was chatting with a dear friend of mine about life and business. We were really just catching up, but she’s also an amazing coach and she challenged me on the idea that I couldn’t write the book. It was like something switched inside of me. I realized I really did want to write the book. I wanted to figure out how to share Connect Method Parenting with more people. To give them the ability to look through a connective instead of corrective lens when parenting.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Totally. With the permission of my clients, I’m going to use her words to share with you the impact Connect Method Parenting had on her and her family. She’s a mom to multiple children and when she came to me was tired of how things were going with her parenting. Her kids weren’t listening, she was yelling, there was fighting, chores weren’t getting done, siblings weren’t getting along, older children were having huge meltdowns, and she felt like she was losing her cool all the time. She was ready to try something new. Here’s how Connect Method Parenting has changed her life.
“Connect Method Parenting is a lifesaver! It’s just been night and day in my house since we started using it and I’ve been so, so grateful. We’ve been through several therapists and counselors and coaches and all sorts of different avenues. Andee is by far hands down the very best! She removed the fear of making mistakes. I recommend Connect Method Parenting absolutely, hands down, with no hesitation! She’s way better than anybody else that I have seen.
I’ve had soooo many paradigm shifts going through the program. I felt like my understanding of how to be a “good” parent before and after is a completely different mental process. The goals I’m aiming for have all changed. I definitely still lose my cool sometimes, but I’m getting that tiny 1% better and it’s slowly starting to accumulate into greater relationships with my kids. I notice little surprises all the time — one kids will give an honest, unprompted apology; another will ask me how she can manage her emotions better without needing my help to do it; another will give me a hug out of the blue and tell me he loves me even when he usually doesn’t want hugs or any “mushy stuff;” and once, my oldest (who has always struggled with behavior problems), sat down and truly processed her thoughts with a STEAR-like model (I guess she saw me doing it?). Her 3-hour tantrum shifted immediately, and she calmed down for the rest of the day. The maturity blew me away. All of us are doing better and better. I truly am so grateful for everything you taught us. You’re helping the entire next generation to be much better equipped for managing life and emotions and behavior than I ever was as a kid.”
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Yes. One hundred percent.
FIRST: The government could provide FREE training for teachers, parents and anyone who works with children in trauma, developmental psychology, and emotional intelligence.
SECOND: Schools adapt their learning styles to support the needs of each child instead of trying to make them fit into the current school structure we’ve created over the past hundred years that doesn’t work for so many children.
THIRD: Society could create more movies, music and a culture supporting healthy growth and learning as it relates to trauma, emotions, and developmental psychology.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership means so many things.
In the context of parenting, it means taking the lead so your child’s nervous system can relax and know they are safe, and you are going to take care of things. The importance of parents compassionately leading their children and their home, doesn’t get talked about often but it’s very important!
If your children don’t feel like they are safe and cared for their nervous system gets the message they must do this for themselves. Their fight/flight reaction gets triggered. They feel the need to step into the role of alpha. Which usually triggers the parents and starts a bit of a tug-of-war.
I’m not saying leadership as a parent means being bossy. That is NOT what I mean by taking the lead or being in the alpha position.
What I mean is, leadership in the context of parenting means providing safety so your child can relax knowing you’ve got things taken care of.
When parents embrace this kind of leadership their child’s nervous system relaxes. Their thinking brain stays on and their emotions stay regulated. Which creates the optimal situation for emotional and physical development and growth.
When parents catch the vision of this kind of parental leadership, they can create exactly what they want with their children. Setting a connective limit if there’s off-track behavior becomes easier. Taking time to pause before reacting to the messy bedroom is possible. And having fun and relaxing with the kids starts no matter what is going on becomes the norm.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
I LOVE this question. In fact, in my book I spend a lot of time talking about things I wish I’d known when I first started parenting. One of the reasons I wrote the book was to share those gems with parents, so they don’t have to figure it out like I did.
I’m going to open my book to help me unpack them as concisely as possible. I hope that’s okay.
The first one is:
Behavior Is NOT a Problem. It’s Information.
I used to make my child’s “bad” behavior mean something about me (usually that I was failing as a mother) and something about him (usually something negative like he was unkind or rude). All this did was lead me to feeling shame, disappointment, or frustration. I’d judge myself. Then judge my child. It was a lose lose. All because I had the false belief that behavior was an indicator of success or failure.
Now I know that is 100% not the case. When my child doesn’t share, fights with his sibling, refuses to go to bed, or breaks curfew I get curious. Behavior is information of what’s going on inside and I want to understand that. I don’t jump to conclusions or make it mean anything other than we are totally normal human beings having a human experience. It’s made such a difference in the way I parent and the relationships I’m able to create with them regardless of their behavior.
The second one is huge. It really challenges some common beliefs a lot of people have around parenting.
Punishments, Consequences and Rewards Don’t Work
We’ve gotten confused when it comes to parenting. We think that if we can just fix the kids’ behavior, our parenting problems will go away.
But parenting doesn’t have anything to do with fixing your child’s off-track behavior, and everything to do with understanding it.
Discipline is not the essence of parenting. Unconditional love is the essence of parenting. Parenting isn’t about telling your kids what they can and can’t do, and then figuring out how to enforce those rules. It’s about understanding them and setting them up for success.
Parenting is about asking yourself, “What do my children need to become the most incredible humans possible?” then figuring out how to create an environment where your children can thrive and that can happen. Parenting is about having dreamy relationships with your kids. Parenting is about learning how to create a relationship of mutual trust and acceptance, so your children want to listen to you. Parenting is the art of staying compassionate and firm when the children decide not to listen to you.
Parenting by correction doesn’t work. Not for the long term — and certainly not without a cost. The truth is that effective, healthy parenting is fueled by connection, compassion, empathy, and understanding.
If corrective parenting doesn’t work, how did modern parenting culture become obsessed with punishments and rewards? Great question!
Ready for a brief history lesson? Trust me, this is fascinating.
After WWII a theory known as Behaviorism or Behavior Modification (now commonly known as Learning Theory) was popularized because of the work of academics who called themselves behaviorists, foremost of whom were BF Skinner and John B Watson. Both had strong arguments in favor of behaviorism.
Skinner and Watson started by proving that they could use external stimuli to train pigeons and rats to do whatever they wanted them to do. They offered the animals positive consequences for specific behavior (i.e., rewards or bribes) and witnessed an increase in that behavior. Negative consequences, however, (i.e., punishments) diminished that behavior.
Skinner published statements such as, “Behavior is shaped and maintained by mediated consequences.” He also said, “Give me a child and I’ll shape him into anything.”
Watson said, “…the position is taken here that the behavior of man and the behavior of animals must be considered in the same plane.” Meaning there is no fundamental, measurable distinction between human and animal behavior. No distinction between what I do and what my dog does, or my child does.
I disagree. Humans have a highly developed prefrontal cortex that makes us different from other mammals — especially different from pigeons and rats. Watson and Skinner discounted this difference. They believed that no matter how complex the behavior was, it could be reduced to a simple stimulus response. The theory was proven on pigeons, then applied to humans. And it worked. It got humans to do or not do things. However, the scientists of the time didn’t consider three things. First, the cost of controlling someone using external stimuli. Second, the long-term impact on a human’s intrinsic motivation. Third, the influence and impact attachments and relationships with other humans have on human behavior.
A set of beliefs emerged about how to shape human behavior. It became our unnoticed, unquestioned norm, just as we do not question that the sky is blue. Skinner’s conclusion was that all behaviors are learned or unlearned because of positive or negative external consequences. The data was collected. The experiments were run. The reports were written. The theory was accepted by the masses…hook, line, and sinker.
The current parenting paradigm emerged with a scientific stamp of approval.
Parenting by correction became good parenting. No questions asked.
However, just because everyone’s doing it doesn’t make it a good idea. Eighties hair and no-fat diets seemed like good ideas at the time, but hindsight is 20/20. It’s time to start questioning it.
“Many people think that discipline is the essence of parenting. But that isn’t parenting. Parenting is not telling your child what to do when he or she misbehaves. Parenting is providing the conditions in which a child can realize his or her full human potentia.” — Gordon Neufeld
Parenting by correction can potentially change your child’s behavior in the short term, especially when they are young. Get some stickers or candy. Set up a time-out chair or take away their favorite toys and you’ll usually get them to temporarily stop or start doing what you want. But it comes at a huge cost. It fractures the relationship. It erodes trust and reduces the child’s ability to tap into their intrinsic motivation. It sends the child a message that something is wrong with them, and they end up thinking…
“I’m too much. Mom can’t handle me. I’m lazy. I’m not kind.”
No parent wants to convey that message to their child. But when you believe the only way to train your child is through external positive or negative consequences, what other choice do you have as a responsible parent? You don’t.
Here’s the reality. Your child’s behavior goes off-track when he’s frustrated about something. When you give him a consequence to stop the off-track behavior, you create more frustration inside your child, not less. He is less likely to listen to you, not more. He is less likely to learn how to behave better, not more. You are pouring gasoline on his inner fire of frustration. It makes the problem bigger, not smaller.
What are we on now? Number three. This one is critical. It’s obvious and not obvious at the same time.
All Emotions Are Essential. Feeling Our Emotions Grows Us Up
Emotions aren’t a defect or a problem to be fixed. They are a critical ingredient in your emotional development and your child’s emotional development. You grow up emotionally by feeling your emotions.
You get better at swimming by swimming in water. You get better at feeling by feeling your emotions. When you intentionally experience the entire cycle of an emotion, you become a little more emotionally mature. It isn’t something you have to figure out. It’s just something you must feel and experience.
You’ve got to first learn how to feel your emotions before you can help your children feel theirs. Their brains aren’t ready to do it on their own. They need you to co-regulate their emotions with them. Brains aren’t fully developed until the age of twenty-five for women and thirty for men.
You expect the impossible of your children when you ask them to self-regulate their emotions. Your children need someone to help them regulate their emotions. Physiologically they can’t do it on their own. Their brains are wired to find someone to help them calm down. The way to help them calm down is by letting them feel their emotions within the safety of a strong connection.
How many of you reach out to others when things get hard? You do this because your brain knows it needs some help to regulate your emotions. It knows you can’t always do it on your own. Your kids are wired to need help calming themselves down for the first two to three decades of their life.
Be the one they go to when they feel emotionally out of control. Be the safe place for them to land. Co-regulating your child’s emotions is one of the most satisfying things you’ll ever do. Once you get the hang of it and stop expecting them to regulate their emotions on their own, you’ll be hooked. Creating a safe, judgment-free place for your kids to fall apart is one of the most important things you’ll do as a parent. It feels amazing and they’ll love you for it.
An emotional meltdown is a sign something isn’t working for your child, not that you’re a parenting screw-up. You think something’s wrong with you or your child. But it’s not true. Nothing has gone wrong. It’s developmentally appropriate. Figuring out what to do when you have big emotions is part of being human. They’re right on track. Your child is in the process of growing up and figuring things out.
You think the goal is no meltdowns, tantrums, fights, or messes.
The goal is to know what to do when the meltdowns, tantrums, fights, or messes happen. Because they will happen. It’s part of the maturation process.
Here’s the truth. Just because they are not melting down, tantruming, fighting, or challenging you doesn’t necessarily mean everything is working for the child. A compliant child could be struggling just as much as the “disobedient” child. What if the compliant child’s way of adapting to what isn’t working for them is an internal meltdown of shame, people-pleasing, and embarrassment instead of an external meltdown of tears, yelling and tantrums?
The goal is not to control what’s happening on the outside but to discover what’s happening on the inside. The “off-track” behavior or “compliant” behavior can mean so many things. Don’t use your child’s behavior for or against you. Their behavior doesn’t mean anything about you. It only means something about them. Get curious and discover what message they are sending you with their behavior. Then you’ll know what to do next.
This next one has been a game changer.
No Matter What, Stay Connected.
I used to think I was “letting the kids get away with something” if I didn’t leap right in and do something if the kids had some off-track behavior. I was so conditioned that if I didn’t appropriately respond (and by appropriately respond I mean help them learn their lesson if they’d mis-behaved) then I was being passive and going to end up with entitled, rude, or unkind children. This is such a stressful way to think. There’s so much pressure if you think the only way your kids will turn out good is if you correct them when they do wrong.
Thank goodness a few years into parenting I discovered the science to disprove this myth. I nervously tried out connective instead of corrective parenting and it worked so much better than I could have ever imagined. I soon experienced first-hand the power of staying connected (which meant in short no blame, frustration, or resistance to what the kids were doing or saying) in every situation. The crazy thing is not only doing our relationships get better but so did their behavior. It was a win win.
When you stay connected no matter what your kid’s nervous systems don’t get triggered and your nervous system doesn’t get triggered. Which in essence means you get to both stay calm and connected as you figure out what to do in response to the off-track behavior that just happened.
The final one, number five on my list, is a powerhouse belief. This gem changed my perspective about what’s humanly possible. It helped me stop “shoulding” myself and my kids and gave me the evidence I needed to allow my brain to chill out and stop feeling regret.
I can only imagine if I’d understood the science behind this principle as a young mom. It would have made my life smoother.
Everyone is doing their best. PERIOD!
This belief has shifted more things for me than anything else. In every given moment we are all doing our very best. This doesn’t mean it’s your all-time best.
Let me unpack this a bit more.
Some days you are at a 10 out of 10 emotionally, physically, and mentally.
As a result, you’re able to show up as your most kind, compassionate, understanding, loving, patient, wise self.
On another day maybe you didn’t get enough sleep, woke up to a messy house, and found out the babysitter for Friday fell through. Which activates your nervous system. On a day like that you might be more of a 3 out of 10. As a result, you’re not able to show up as your most kind, compassionate, understanding, loving, patient, wise self.
This happens to you and your kids.
If you could have been more patient, loving, compassionate, understanding, or wise when your toddler threw a fit you totally would have, but because of the specific dynamics of that moment in time you weren’t able to. You were only able to show up at 30% your potential.
Same thing goes for your toddler. If he could have been more patient, loving, compassionate, understanding, or wise he would have. But in that particular moment he couldn’t. You are saying no to another cookie got his little nervous system triggered for some reason.
Approaching each situation in life with the belief that “Everyone is doing their best. PERIOD!” doesn’t mean you’re turning into a passive parent or not responding to the situation. It DOES mean you’re able to be an extremely intentional parent and respond to the situation with more love, compassion, understanding, and connection than ever before.
Not only does science back me up on this, but my experience in real life with my real kids does too. It’s been one of the best beliefs shifts that’s relieved an immense amount of stress in my parenting, but also supplied an immense amount of connection in my parenting.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite life lesson quotes is…
“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstance.” -Viktor Frankl
I came across this quote when reading Viktor Frankl’s book Man’s Search for Meaning twenty years ago.
I remember thinking. If a Holocaust survivor can believe this then anyone can believe this.
I wanted to see the world like Viktor Frankl saw the world. I wanted to believe that no matter what, I had the freedom to choose my attitude in any situation I faced in my life, regardless of how terrible or overwhelming the situation appeared.
It’s been my aim ever since.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Yes! I would LOVE to talk to Dr. Gordon Neufeld. He has blazed a trail for a new way of parenting. His work is a map for what parenting can look like and opened the door for me to become the parent I became.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
The best way to follow my work online is to check out my website at https://connectmethodparenting.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Andee Martineau of Connect Method Parenting Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.