Episode 19: Alley-Oop Parenting

Apr 21, 2023
Alley Oop Parenting Toddler Tips

Hey everyone! Welcome back to the Elevate Motherhood Podcast! Today’s episode is about setting people up to make positive decisions for themselves. I hope it will be a blessing to you!

 (If you would like to listen to this podcast episode- click here)

This is about parenting, because this podcast is mostly for moms, but it is also just like a how to deal with people type of episode. You can apply this to people besides your children!


And as always, I want to remind you I’m not a parenting expert! This is just a topic me and some friends have talked about and that’s what I like to share here- as if you’re listening in on a conversation with mom friends just doing their best. Everyone is parenting different kids who have different needs and respond differently to things… so I don’t even believe there is an exact right or wrong way to do some things. These are just some thoughts I’ve had lately and what’s worked for me and my family and some friends! So as always, take what you want from this and forget the rest! I’m never judging anyone who does things differently than me because I’m not raising their kids and they aren’t raising mine! That’s God’s grand design for families and parenting! Anyone who’s doing their best to trust God and be a good parent to their kids is a winner in my book! It’s a big job and it helps when we encourage each other positively and not judging anyone! That’s always my goal!


So today we are talking about a few concepts and we’ll wrap them all up into one! Basically it’s how to avoid meltdowns and how to parent through meltdowns, how to set our kids up to make the positive choice. We’ll talk about a concept I learned from Ralphie at Simply on Purpose about holding space for kids. We’ll talk about leading by example since we are the emotionally mature ones in the parent-child relationship, and we’ll talk about something I randomly thought of which we are calling Alley-Oop Parenting, basically setting our kids up for making the right choice! We’ll talk about how to be consistent and help our kids learn to trust our voice. I hope this is all a blessing to you!


Holding Emotional Space for Toddlers

To begin, I want to introduce you to a concept I learned from Ralphie at Simply on Purpose on Instagram. She did a thorough explanation of holding space for people. I had heard the concept of holding space for someone, but I hadn’t really understood until she explained it. She said basically there is a scientific phenomena that when 2 vibrating things (even if they are vibrating at different frequencies) come into the same space, they start to synchronize to the same frequency. And the same goes for emotions. Who knew I would be talking about science 2 episodes in a row on this podcast? But stick with me. So you have something vibrating at a super high frequency, near something that’s not even vibrating, they will “sync” and end up vibrating at the same frequency. Same for emotions. You know, that one person who comes into a room in a bad mood and it brings down the mood of the whole room. Or that person who comes in always happy and the mood for everyone is raised. One vibration or emotion near one that is not the same, will cause the emotions or vibrations to synchronize.


So how does this apply to parenting? Ralphie says it’s our job to basically HOLD onto our OUR emotion so that our kids can synchronize their emotions to ours. You’re in a calm happy mood, your kid gets into meltdown mode about something totally random, you either regulate to them and become stressed out and upset OR you hold onto your calm and they start to calm down too. You’re intentionally holding your space to allow them a space to regulate themselves. When they are totally dysregulated, you can choose to hold onto your calm, instead of rising to their dysregulation, and that choice to hold onto your calm helps them calm.


We have talked about this in other ways just like being the example. SHOWING them what to do instead of telling them what to do. If you’re yelling at your kid to stop yelling, you’re basically demanding that this young person do something you’re unwilling or unable to do in that moment too.


And basically holding space for them in a crazy moment means showing them exactly how to be calm because we are deliberately choosing to remain calm. We aren’t pushing them away to try to figure this out for themselves, we are staying there, holding space, allowing them to regulate to the emotions we have chosen with our emotional intelligence that is more mature than theirs. We aren’t scaring them with our loud behavior, we aren’t scaring them with the fact they are so powerful they can totally throw us off too, no, we are being the leader, we are showing them what to do, we are holding space by holding onto our emotion and that will help them regulate with us.


So are you ready for the the alley-oop concept? I was like a little bit nerdy excited when I thought of this because it works so well in my brain. Okay, if you don’t already know this, In basketball, an alley-oop is when one player throws the ball up right by the basket for another player on their team to catch that ball in mid-air and score, usually with a dunk. One player is setting up their teammate for a really awesome score. I like to think when my kids are in a crazy moment, that I’m not only holding onto my calm to help them calm down, I’m also going to try to alley-oop them to come back to a positive decision. I can’t and don’t really want to try to FORCE them to do what I say, I want them to make the right choice, but I want to kind of set them up to more easily make that awesome, positive choice.


Set Your Kids Up for Success


So step one would be hold your calm like we learned from Ralphie, but step 2 is to give them an alley-oop, making the next good choice more easy for them to make because you are leaving it right there in front of them by the basket ready to score.


You can also think of it as leaving your foot in the door for them. You’re walking ahead of them and making good choices and that door is closing and you’re about to be on the other side and they are about to be stuck on the bad upset side, you can leave your foot in that door so it’s easier for them to get through that door. They don’t have to reach up, twist the knob, pull the door, you left your foot in the door so all they have to do is catch it and follow you. That gap between where they are and where you want them to be is shorter because you left that foot in the door and cut out all those steps for them.


Think about TV news anchors or radio hosts, they kind of alley-oop each other all day, right? What if someone on the news was like- And Shelby, you love hot chocolate too right? And then she says says, NO. I don’t. Well the conversation kind of dies there right? And it’s awkward? And the other person feels embarrassed or shut down. But if that person said- actually it’s chi tea that I love! And yes I love drinking it when it’s cold outside! I am so ready for the cold weather to be here… then they can move on in the conversation. Everyone’s happy. No one lied. She was still honest and said what she needed to say, but kept it positive and segued into the next conversation. It made it easy for the conversation to keep flowing and both people felt good about it


So I’ll try to talk through some examples.


One easy way to do this with toddlers is to try not to start your sentences with NO.

This is also just a good practice for interacting with humans in general. Think about that one-upper friend who always has a better idea and shuts you down right after you’re done speaking. That gets frustrating, right? Well we don’t want to do that to our kids and walk around telling them no all day. YES there are times we need to say NO. But if it’s not hurting someone or something, try to lead them toward a YES instead of you yourself leading with NO.


I remember when I was around someone who had kids before me and they said something like, we are trying not to tell our daughter NO unless it’s a dangerous or very serious situation. So if shes like touching the table with a messy hand we aren’t saying NO No! No touching! We are saying, oop! Let’s grab a napkin wipe your hand really quickly and then you can touch that table! Okay here you go!

Do you see the difference? The reasoning behind that example was more-so teaching that young toddler to react quickly to a NO safety situation and they wouldn’t be tuning it out because they hear no all day. So that’s a valid reason too. But also see how it didn’t just shut down her little idea to touch the table, there was just something that needed to be done first and then she could follow through with her idea.


Here’s another example- a 4 year old is at Target and they see a $25 Lego toy that they want. Mommy can I please have this now please please please!!! Option one- No! You don’t always get a toy every time you go to the store! You have to understand this! I’ve told you that every time! We are buying groceries! ….How do you think this will go? Option 2- Oh wow! Yes that toy looks amazing! I’d love to build that with you. That lego set costs $25. Let’s go home and see how much money you have saved in your piggy bank and if that’s what you choose to spend it on, we’ll come back and get it! If you don’t have enough we can ask dad if you can do some work around the house to earn some money so we can come back and get it when you have enough! Your birthday is coming up too! I bet your grandpa may even give you money for your birthday! You’ll probably have enough then! Did you say you want waffles or yogurt for breakfast tomorrow? Let’s go find it before we forget. And that whole time already walking away from that toy. Do you see how that sets them up to make the next right choice and doesn’t just shut them down. Now we are talking about breakfast and we addressed the fact they want their toy, the parent still said no, but left the options open for the kid, on a positive note and set up the alley-oop to talk about breakfast and find that food.


When we shut down our kids we make the gap between where they currently are and where we want them to be even wider. It requires them to be even MORE emotionally mature after we shut them down than they were before we shut them down. It may even be asking them to do something we aren’t willing to do in that moment.


So here is another example. A 2 year old says, I want to eat chocolate chips right now! The mom says, no, you can’t have chocolate chips, not until after dinner…. You already know this isn’t going to go well. They kid is crying, mad. An alley-oop way to leave your foot in the door is to say, Ooh yum yes that sounds great! You CAN have a few AFTER dinner. Let’s put some on this  plate so we don’t forget and we’ll leave that plate up here until it’s time for dinner! Right now it’s play time! Do you want to play puzzles or blocks? So you didn’t shut them down totally, you validated that yes chocolate chips sounds great! But you held the boundary that this isn’t the right time for chocolate chips, you gave them some type of solution, and you left your foot in the door by helping them move on from that topic to the next thing for them to think about. I would even like set up that plate with them and then start moving my body toward the puzzles while I’m finishing saying that. So you’re already walking toward the next right thing.


And this conversation here isn’t to totally avoid the fact that when you’re the parent, your yes means yes and your no means no. Yes we want our kids to be obedient and to trust what we say. I think this conversation actually confirms that type of parenting. It’s super important that we are consistent and kind and that our yes is yes and our no is no. In being with kids all day there are like a million conversations. So in my opinion, we want to save the serious no and serious yes for the more serious things. And these alley-oop conversations are more just avoiding unnecessary meltdowns and just overcoming kids with no all day long, especially on the things that aren’t such a big deal.


One of my best friends who I think is an amazing mom has kids a few years older than mine and she has told them- in a lot of situations, adults know more than kids do about what’s really going on, and I need you to trust my voice. Especially when I am giving a command in a stern way. You need to trust me because it may be a matter of safety, or that I realize something going on that you may not realize. And when we get to the car or somewhere private, I will give you more information about why we had to make that decision or say that or do that. … and I think BECAUSE she has parented her kids with such kindness and consistency and built up trust, they understand that and were like okay got it. But if we all day long were just like, "no no no do what I say and don’t ask questions," I think kids might just get burnt out with it all and the serious situations would be lost in the shuffle of that just being the norm. My son is 4.5 and I do think he is already old enough to understand that conversation. I have had the same conversation with him and my 2 year old daughter. The trust will just keep being built and the more they can understand the more they will be quick to trust us.


I for sure don’t want kids that just do whatever they want and have no respect for authority, including parents, that’s not at all my goal so I hope that comes across here.

The more you start thinking in this way, you may find that you’re asking yourself why you were about to say no so often in the first place. Sometimes as adults we just like want to say no to anything that isn’t like totally efficient or quick. And toddlers aren’t always thinking-what could be the most efficient and quick thing to do right now.


I think trying not to shut down our kids on unnecessary things all day will also build their confidence. We WANT them to be curious and learn that they have good ideas.  


And of course our ultimate teacher is Jesus. We want to do all the things he has told us to do. And I believe this does fall in line with what he says. It’s the fruit of the spirit- love, peace, patience, gentleness, self-control. We are being examples of these things for our kids like Jesus was the example to us. We are submitting to the authority of Jesus because we trust him, because we love him, because we honor him, because he has shown us mercy and grace. We tell our kids that, we want our kids to learn that about him too. We want to conduct ourselves with consistency, rooted in our faith, not shaking and shifting due to situations or emotions of our children. We aren’t ruled by emotions, and showing our kids that does more than TELLING our kids that.


And I just want to say if you feel like you’re doing everything right and you have to keep showing or teaching your kid the same thing multiple times, it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Even if it takes what feels like a million times. Just be consistent and keep teaching them. It’s our job! It’s our assignment. We just keep doing the right thing and they’ll get it.


And we ask our kids for forgiveness when we need to. We show them that we get it wrong sometimes and we are always trying to do better. We are always trying to be led by the spirit. And we are leading our kids the same way. We are setting them up alley-oops to make the right choice. We are leaving our foot in the door for them to follow us. We are keeping that gap short, the gap between how they are acting and how we want them to act. We aren’t calling it out and shutting it down and addressing that gap so much that we’re making it bigger, we are talking and praying and believing like they are about to join us in our calm, positive, responsible behavior. Because we are the more emotionally intelligent ones, we are the ones who have been following jesus longer, we are the ones not on shifting sand. They’ll follow us! And we’ll make it easy for them.


And like I said at the beginning of the episode, this stuff really goes for interacting with anyone, not just with children. This can be for a coworker or sibling or anyone else who’s part of your life and you feel like frustrated when they are hard to deal with. Maybe some of these tips will help you help them, by being an example and setting them up to make the good decision, setting them up for the alley-oop. And it’s for just relationships with people, not just hard to deal with people, but just like in general we should be using positive segues and setting people up to score just always. Spouses, friends, siblings, whoever! We should always be using these tools for positive interactions, in my opinion at least!


And ultimately like we’ve talked about before, we want through our parenting to convince our kids that WE believe they are smart, capable, important, and especially when they know WE believe that, they’ll believe that about themselves.


Part of my goals of this podcast is to bless the moms with some positive mindset and parenting tools but also it’s my goal to help all our kids have happy positive moms. What a blessing that is, right! Your kids are so blessed to have YOU!


Well that’s all I have for today! I hope this episode is a blessing to you!


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