Help kids become the best version of themselves with Niki Papadopoulou

Help kids become the best version of themselves with Niki Papadopoulou

Episode 47
32:37

Description:

In today’s episode, my former teacher Niki is joining us to talk about how to help children reach their full potential. Niki has acquired a lot of wisdom over the years first as a teacher and then as a mother. I love her take on setting boundaries, choosing the long term benefits approach, why it is important to be clear about expectations, and how and when to open the dialogue.

I would like to thank you so much for all the love and support, but also for your patience for season 2!

There are so many great things coming. I also wanted to announce that we now have people listening from 50 countries… this is huge! Thank you so much. Please keep spreading the word, keep sharing and don’t forget to Write a Review if you have Apple Podcasts – it truly helps.

You can also find us on Instagram @TheBubblingAdventure for daily positive education content. Now that it’s said and you all went and subscribe, let’s begin!

Episode Transcript:

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Julie Pabion: hi Niki how are you today.


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Niki: Im doing well, how are you Julie.


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Julie Pabion: i'm so excited to have you on and so for the audience Nikki is actually a former teacher of mine from Business School in France so it's 100 she's always been a role model for me so i'm very excited to have this conversation with unity today.


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Niki: i'm delighted to hear it i'm so happy to hear you and to hear your voice and to hear how well you're doing I can hear the sparkle usually you see a sparkle in your eye, but here it's a sparkle in your voice.


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Niki: i'm delighted to be here and i'm honored that you thought of me.


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Julie Pabion: Of course, how could I not.


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Julie Pabion: And so, could you please introduce yourself.


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Niki: My name is Nikki pepper the Polo.


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Niki: Many times people ask me what my nationality is in Nice, say, well, I have three I am Greek and I lived in both Greece and the United States i'm Greek an American and I would say that.


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Niki: If I could choose my national idea would say i'm kind of a don't feel like i'm part of any country i've lived in different countries, I speak different languages and.


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Niki: Diversity in general and international approaches what inspires me them, maybe, many people have had this experience, the more you see and live in.


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Niki: See different perspectives, the more stimulating it is so those that variety of perspectives is part of my life every day because i'm a deputy Dean in the Business School were you studying Julie, I had a career before I started teaching and then before I became a dead, the deputy Dean.


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Niki: I was I studied international relations and my absolute dream was to work in diplomacy, or an international organization.


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Niki: I started my career in Mexico, that I lived in the US, then I came to France to work in the corporate sector so that was a very big move for me for someone that wanted to learn work in let's say humanitarian approach.


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Niki: I have been teaching in France for the last 12 years and have been in a Dean deputy Dean know.


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Niki: it's hard to translate the terms that's why i'm having a hard time.


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Niki: But anyway, Deputy Dean, for several years and and my main motivation in my professional life, and my personal life is to learn, so if I could say Nikki is what I would say, a lifelong learner.


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Julie Pabion: hmm and that obviously inspired you on, you know how you parent your kids right, like all this diversity this passion for what you do.


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Julie Pabion: And because you helped your your children but also your students right.


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Niki: Exactly to me it's very similar.


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Niki: it's funny because my students sometimes tell me or your now that they come back and some alumni come back to see me I saw an alumni a couple days ago he's 28 so Adam in class his the class of 2015 and he was saying you had kind of a mothering role.


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Niki: As we say in French matt definitely and I don't I never like that I didn't have a student actually it was one of your classmates Julie, who called me mom.


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Niki: And I were like oh my God I can't be the mom of this guy anyway, now I could have I could be the mother of my students now.


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Niki: can't say the age differences it's gotten much bigger but anyway.


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Niki: I definitely bring that approach to parenting to my job as a as a say an educator and also in my everyday life, the interactions to me, I think one of the things that inspired me to teach was like you said, being a lifelong learner and also.


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Niki: it's the really profound desire to help others and, like you just said, help others become the best they can, that doesn't mean I know the answer of how they can become the best they can that's not an answer, obviously I have, and just as happens when you're a parent.


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Niki: You know you have your get pregnant and then you have babies and they're really cute and you spend all your time with them, you know when they're little.


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Niki: cuddling and you know, making little sounds like oh you're so cute and those kind of stuff and now my my two sons, I have two sons one is 15 and one is 12 and so they're much more grown up.


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Niki: And we have lots of different conversations now about lots of things of history human nature football any kind of subject you can imagine, philosophy and I realized that it's it's it's easier said than done, but the way.


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Niki: I tried to apply my life philosophy to them, which is, I think, if I could say a book help them become the best that they can become mostly by listening and.


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Niki: helping them let you know how can I say listening to them, I think it's more about listening accompanying and accepting I think what helps us others, our children become the best they can, is when we're generous with them when we allow them to say and take the positions that they view.


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Niki: When we allow them to.


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Niki: do things and make mistakes, sometimes.


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Niki: When we actually don't even call mistakes mistakes it's something I think about a lot.


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Niki: You know I know you know I live since 2003 in France and and I still when I first got here was a culture shock and I still have culture, sex, because often In France, we like to identify mistakes.


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Niki: And we like to punish mistakes and now that my kids are in French school, and now they have it for a while and even in in.


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Niki: What what in France is called parallel so middle school at least that's what it's called in the US, I don't know what it's called another country's been though the years between usually it's between 11 and 13 or 14 is it's all about punishment it's all about repercussions.


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Niki: yeah and in fact I think that sometimes it's true that we have, we have to set rules and I actually think that helping people become the best of themselves either students or children, is to set rules but it's also important not to make rules about.


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Niki: How can I say checking something and just saying yes it's done or I did it the right way.


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Niki: it's about.


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Niki: Allowing people your children or your students to understand.


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Niki: 10 internalize the message and I had a lot of debates and i'll tell you how I apply this to parenting with my students, I really remember really well in 2012.


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Niki: I taught a group of students lots of classes in their second year and second year students are really unruly in in the US second year students in university of called sophomores which comes from the Greek so full model, which means wise baby.


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Niki: And the second year students have always been wise quote Unquote.


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Niki: Babies in the sense that they're older, you know they're 19 or 20 but they're still acting a little bit like babies they can't really succeed in.


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Niki: The classroom sometimes they can't listen, or they can concentrate.


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Niki: That now they're really distracted with snapchat and whatever all of the distractions that exists now, but before it was other things writing little notes on their classmates paper is driving.


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Niki: You know bleeding hearts and they're they're always been things that have distracted them and, of course, that was much more exciting than listening to geopolitics, in my classroom economics.


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Niki: And they would tell me, you know when people speak in class or interrupt you, you know why are you tougher, you should just tell people, you should.


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Niki: How can I say banish them for your class and I always tell them my don't spend time they told me try and explain your Rules are trying to do anything just impose your authority, and I think that teaching and teaching and being a parent imposing your authority is a very short term solution.


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Niki: He inspires fear, but just like a parent you don't want your kids to do things just because.


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Niki: But just when you are there, you want them to do it, he regardless of if you're there, and not because they're not doing it because you told them not to they're not doing something bad I don't know like I don't know what playing gameboy for hours or some video game, or whatever.


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Niki: you're eating.


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Niki: junk food you don't whatever things you don't want them to do watching too much TV it's because you want them to internalize it and you want them to do it, no matter really regardless of your presence.


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Julie Pabion: And it was the same thing as.


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Niki: My students, I told them my objective is to convince you I want you to understand my idea.


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Niki: And my position so you're not not doing it out of fear, but you're doing it because you understand where it comes from you understand the meaning and the.


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Niki: The the I don't know what's at the heart of the lesson that i'm trying to teach you.


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Niki: And of course it takes much longer it's much easier, as a parent to punish all the time, you know you did this punishment, you did that punishment.


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Niki: The older you get the harder is to punish your kids that's one thing it's really important to keep in mind when they're little you can punish them in lots of ways.


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Niki: My 12 and 15 year old I it's hard to punish them, because what am I going to do take away their phone okay all they're going to do is feel frustrated they're not going to get the message.


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Niki: Now I can.


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Niki: Tell them not to see their their their friends or I can I don't know what take away their favorite manga but in the end there i'm causing suffering but they're not helping them understand, and I think helping understanding.


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Niki: and seeing other people's perspectives and showing respect for those perspectives.


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Niki: is really, really important.


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Niki: it's really part of how you can help people become the best that they are, if you trust them, and so they trust themselves.


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Julie Pabion: Right So could you please give us an example, maybe, of how you would handle a situation where I don't know someone has made I don't want to say, like mistake but.


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Julie Pabion: yeah someone has like one of your kids, for example, has done something that you're not happy about how would you like sit them down have a conversation or how would you handle the situation.


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Niki: or la la, this is a big question.


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Niki: I would say that's why.


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Niki: parenting is a you know, like in France, you say have I did long galen it's something that's a long term investment it's about creating a relationship.


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Niki: that's why you can't just arrived just one day and set rules for your kids it's about constructing building and reinforcing them, so I would say that i'll give you an example.


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Niki: I hope it's not too controversial but you'll tell me if it is, I want my kids to eat well man eating well means for me it's a very subjective subject issue is I want them to eat.


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Niki: Everything that's healthy that's proposed to them, and I want them to know what's healthy and get and get be appreciate things that are fresh things that are.


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Niki: Locally grown things that are good for their body.


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Niki: And I started in reinforcing that by making baby food with and mixing vegetables that you know I would buy and you know that were local and organic and then.


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Niki: They started eating that kind of food and also feeding him the food that we ate and I remember and it's still an issue, my friends would come over and they'd be like why you know.


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Niki: Why are you, you know, are you Is this what you're going to feed our kids because my friends would always have a meal for the parents and a meal for the kids.


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Niki: And the meal for the parents was.


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Niki: Something simple it was something like often the French Fries and a piece of ham or little tomatoes and some other kind of.


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Niki: I don't know rice really simple things that didn't have spices that didn't have taste, because that's the easiest thing for kids to eat.


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Niki: But to me.


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Niki: It was better to get them used to doing it so then it became a habit and now.


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Niki: When my my oldest son turned 10 we took him to a really nice restaurant with all these funny strange flavors and they told us we're not supposed to bring kids and I said don't worry they'll eat everything and they do.


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Niki: So that's an example.


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Niki: How when when my kids do what um let's say you said, maybe a mistake, for example, one of the biggest issues is i'll give you two one is my oldest son cannot let go of his phone.


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yeah.


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Niki: It is absolutely impossible, now we can't pretend that we don't do the same that's one of the things like what example are we giving we're stuck we're like.


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Niki: glued to our phone all of the time, sometimes we pretend we adults, I mean we the older people pretend that it's for work, but the truth of the matter is it's, not just for work and even if it were.


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Niki: Is it okay to be working at 10 at night of every day, no, I mean we we make up excuses, but just like he does he makes excuses of I need to talk to my friends it's really.


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Niki: An emergency.


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Niki: But the truth is, is that we're giving him that example so i'm really aware of that.


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Niki: But I also know that if he doesn't stop using his phone all the time and doing this, you know now they do.


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Niki: i'm talking to you as if you're old but you're very, very young, anyway, the new thing you know is these new things quote unquote his voice messages like you never talk on the phone to someone.


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Niki: You just give them messages.


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Niki: And it's like kind of weird because you're not writing.


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Niki: And you're not talking and interacting there's no dialogue you're just talking message and the message anyway.


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Niki: We figured out that when we tell her not to do it, he does it anyway he's cages phone in places and then he pretends he needs to go to those places so in the bathroom in the kitchen, even in places where we'd be happy if you were like where we fold our laundry.


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Niki: He put he could put the phone there it's like oh she's there to fold the laundry what a nice guy, but in fact he's not folding the laundry he's actually doing these messages anyway.


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Niki: I realized that my husband would get really angry and I would get also upset that he was doing that and not going to bed earlier not doing something that we think is constructive like reading a book.


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Niki: And I realized that I talked to him about it but talking to him about it is like when I try to explain things to my students sometimes he my son things I just don't understand.


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Niki: i'm probably didn't have friends.


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Niki: I probably wasn't a teenager I probably never was in love with a boy or I never you know, whatever he thinks that i'm just this old person that was always old and that's a human thing.


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Niki: yeah you're laughing because you know it's not true, but we don't imagine that either about our professors, or about.


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Julie Pabion: Our posture i'm laughing because I was thinking, the same, and I was always having a hard time imagining my my parents being.


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Julie Pabion: kids you know.


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Niki: exactly right you thought like they couldn't have been teenagers, they could have been done something silly like drink too much or whatever.


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Julie Pabion: No, did you have a life, before I arrived.


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Niki: You arrived right and then, when you arrived.


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Niki: All the did was were parents.


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Niki: They didn't have other desires motivations, yes, you realize that with time there's nothing that, aside from time that can help you become aware of that.


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Niki: And that's one of the things when your parents, you are keep on thinking oh okay in 15 years, I understand, but of course 15 you know that's not what it's the same thing as teaching I know.


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Niki: That three months after my students finished their studies, they understand things that I tried to explain to them for months.


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Niki: And the older they get the more they come back and see me and I, I remember this now, I understand, and like oh no you understand, but anyway that nonetheless at the time it's important it's not understood.


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Niki: So, no matter what I do with my son I can't explain, so I try to explain to him why it's important.


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Niki: it's good it's better for his health he needs to get sleep he's worried about you know, having nice skin and looking rested and.


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Niki: And being in good shape so having you know well, how are you having a muscular body, it sounds like a big like he's some kind of body builder but anyway, you know looking good.


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Niki: And I tell them that.


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Niki: him that if he doesn't give time to his mind, and if it doesn't rest and if he doesn't get enough hours of sleep that's not going to happen and i'm not saying it works all the time, but I tried to explain it why it's not a good idea in the most caring and.


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Niki: i'm responsible and respectful way, because I think that when I show him respect then he's more respectful of what I tell him.


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Niki: And the more seriously, he takes what i'm says saying sorry it's not about Nick mom knows everything you know nothing which is traditional parenting.


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Niki: You shut up because you don't know I talked because I know and it's not a dialogue it's a monologue I tried to create a dialogue.


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Niki: Now i'll give you another example, my youngest son is loves reading sloughs thinking is a little bit into me he loves people, but he also likes to have his own time.


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Niki: And sometimes when you kind of open the door and he's on his own time quote unquote he can get really upset like if you tell them to.


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Niki: I can't clean up his room, so I was thinking about it in French.


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Niki: clean up his room while he's you know, drawing mangoes or whatever.


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Niki: he'll get angry, you know being you know defensive now again, I totally understand.


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Niki: And it's the same thing I don't the way I get him to figure out that it's not a good reaction is not by talking when he's in the heat of the matter you know when it's when he's annoyed that's definitely not a good time to talk, because his brain is like on intense read mode.


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Niki: And all he hears you know, no matter what I say it's like a film.


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Niki: I used to watch snoopy and in snoopy.


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Niki: That when adults talk it's doesn't sound like they don't talk there's no words like.


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Niki: give it to them and I don't I can't do it, but that's I know that that's what's happening, when I tell him to do something when he's in that mode.


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Niki: it's as if it's it was it was I was speaking another language or I was an alien or whatever, or it was barking at him, so I know that.


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Niki: It was important to do is wait, let him come down and then come later on, sometimes I have to be patient i've learned to be patient as a parent i'm usually.


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Niki: like to say things right away and get them out of the way because I don't like uncomfortable feelings, but I realized with my kids sometimes I have to let things come down.


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Niki: And sometimes it takes hours, sometimes it can take a day or two and then i'll come back and say.


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Niki: You know, when I tried to tell you this, this is what I thought, and this is what I wanted this was my intention, when you did, that this is what I experienced, and this is how I saw it.


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Niki: This is why I think it's important to do this i'm not going to make you do it, but I want you to understand why I think it's important and then it kind of falls into place, I don't want idealize it but.


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Niki: I realized that using this technique with my kids about their homework about getting good grades.


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Niki: about being respectful it doesn't work at 100% of the time, it may be worked 70 sometimes it works 95 sometimes it works 45, but I feel that we're progressing and I.


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Niki: think that being a parent it's important to feel like it's not it's not static it's dynamic.


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Niki: and keeping the dialogue open is more important, I think, then, winning battles, because as long as you keep the dialogue open, you know what's happening, you know what your kids are feeling what they're thinking what their challenges are.


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Niki: When you start closing the dialogue and creating a monologue.


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Niki: that's when you can be excluded and that's when when when you can maybe miss out on really important information on what's happening in their lives.


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Julie Pabion: Right, so it also teaches them mature that conflict resolution as well, that is going to be very.


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Julie Pabion: useful for them like i'm thinking of like when they have their own kids or even just with their partner later it's so important to be able to also reflect on how you feel or how you felt because again it's good to know.


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Julie Pabion: How long people need before they able to resolve the conflict, because it can vary from one person to another so it's good that they also learn the boundaries and.


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Julie Pabion: When is the best time to actually do it, and then so you're all about the sort of like long term gain rather than.


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Julie Pabion: Immediate impatience, which I like I think it's it's it takes a lot of work as well, sometimes to not be frustrated that you're right like in the long term, it makes a lot more impact.


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Niki: it's nice of you to you know I know you think of me as like you think Oh, she was my professor, but I think of you as my former student and I had a Chinese student who told me one day.


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Niki: student, for I don't know one month or I don't know a couple months mentor for a year for a lifetime and I love that and i've never I don't set out to be a mentor but.


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Niki: it's it, it makes me so happy to see my students do well and grow up, I mean you know evolve and hearing what you just said.


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Niki: makes me happy because it's nice to have also your understanding about my approach Sometimes I feel like I have to be on the defensive about the way that I do things not all the time, but sometimes.


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Niki: And it's nice to see that you understand where i'm coming from.


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Julie Pabion: Of course, no it's it's it's good and it's but I know also I understand that it's hard to do it's not just that it's the like, I do agree with you on.


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Julie Pabion: That it's like the way to go, but I understand that it's also hard to apply, sometimes in that as a parent, you need to also put your own frustrations and like if you had a bad day you need to really be able to.


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Julie Pabion: Say there's other ways and again it's completely normal to snap as well, like this is what we're trying to do in this episode saying that you should always choose the.


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Julie Pabion: The peaceful way it it's just not realistic, like sometimes obviously the frustrations is too big and you know it everybody else everybody snap so that's of course not something that.


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Julie Pabion: You know don't feel bad if you if you did a few days ago, whatever cuz it's really normal.


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Niki: I i'm happy that you're saying that because I agree and that's one of the challenges is that.


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Niki: When you work, and when you come back, I mean, even if you know of work, everybody works every parent works, but.


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Niki: let's say if you work outside of the home and you come back, sometimes I often come back, especially these last few weeks, really late.


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Niki: And I call my kids to say, can you set the table can because my husband's often traveling and I call them and when i'm leaving at work from work i'm sorry at 730 or eight, which is, which is late, because that means we're going to eat late and they're going to go to work to bed late.


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Niki: And then call them say.


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Niki: Set the table warm this thing up.


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Niki: And I get home and it's like okay not exactly done sometimes many times it is other times it's not.


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Niki: And you're right sometimes you do snap sometimes you do get upset sometimes you want to sometimes you snap often we snap at the wrong you, we all know that we snap at those that we that we love and we that love us.


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Niki: You know you don't snap at your boss.


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Niki: A lot often I mean.


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Niki: I don't know because you don't think it's you know it's really not a good idea.


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Niki: If we snap at people that we love, because we know that they'll accept us.


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Niki: And it's kind of that strange thing in life that sometimes we're harder with the people that love us the most.


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Niki: And I think everyone.


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Niki: You this this podcast is about parenting, but I think behind every parent is a parents.


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Niki: And like you said you were remembering how it was to think your parents didn't have a life before you.


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Niki: it's you know when you become a parent you remember how much you snapped and the things that you said, and I remember saying you know to my dad things that.


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Niki: That.


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Niki: My son, I mean I took to give credit to my something never said to me, I think it was much, much tougher to handle.


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Niki: So we do have to be generous being generous and empathetic it with others, is also something we have to apply to ourselves.


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Niki: have to.


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Niki: We cannot do that if we have to be generous with ourselves, and I know it's called a self care.


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Niki: And that's the word that's used that to me it's just it's a generosity, but it there's lots of ways to say it, but it's really important like you said to keep that in mind, not to cut yourself some, it is important to cut yourself some slack it's important not to be too tough on ourselves.


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Niki: Because it's that it's that is going to allow other people, I think, to be comfortable with us our in our pair honors our kids.


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Niki: to feel you, they have to feel like they're growing up with humans, they can't feel like they're going up with some kind of ideal model imaginary thing that doesn't exist, they have to see us.


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Niki: As humans, and we also say that about managers and leaders before it used to be like, if you were a leader or a manager people had to see you as some kind of a.


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Niki: charismatic leader like them, but in reality the leaders we identify and inspires the most are the ones that are human and make mistakes and sometimes really screw things up and that's okay it's okay.


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Julie Pabion: As long as again they're able to apologize, you know resolve the conflict well.


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Julie Pabion: It just like five minutes after, as you said, sometimes it takes a couple days.


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Julie Pabion: But it teaches them that it's it's okay it's it's normal and as long as you go back to it to explain that I think that's, the most important part, because sometimes I fill in the role of.


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Julie Pabion: Relationships whether it's with like friends or your parents or your your kids if you're guarding yourself fl sometimes some really hard words are are said.


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Niki: yeah.


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Julie Pabion: Definitely, and because pain.


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Julie Pabion: That this pain can be erased or at least you know make better if you go back to it and and and talk about it in a in a you know, a calm way and really, as you said in the beginning.


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Julie Pabion: listening and trying to understand you know what the damage that has been done on like where were you coming from and so on, because otherwise it can really leave a bad stain on the relationship.


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Niki: I really agree and that's why I think it's about communication and explaining like you said and it's also about accepting that I it's funny.


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Niki: The older I get I realized not we all really can have very different perspectives and if we don't try to understand where other people are coming from and give them the benefit of the doubt and I think that's true as people we know very well or not well.


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Niki: We can't advance we can't make a more profound stronger tougher relationship tougher I mean, is it more resistant.


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Niki: So you're right it, we have to sometimes That means that meeting you did we did something really bad I mean no we you know our reaction was really appropriate.


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Niki: But that's part of.


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Niki: Being able to move forward and creating a deeper stronger dialogue and the more resistant relationship, how can I say it solidifies.


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Niki: A relationship, because that way we show our vulnerability we show that we we recognize that we don't always have the right reactions and we move forward and sometimes the hardest part is understanding when people react in ways that we just can't understand.


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Julie Pabion: mm hmm.


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But.


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Niki: it's important to.


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Niki: it's important to be able to to listen and to understand and to accept.


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Julie Pabion: Exactly No, this is very true, and is there one last advice that you would like to share.


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Niki: was the last advice.


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Julie Pabion: i'd.


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like to share.


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Niki: My last advice, I think, is that.


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Niki: Being a parent means of taking a look back and how your relationship with your own parents thinking back to what was important for you and what helped you when your parents were parenting you.


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Niki: It I think it takes also an acceptance of who your kids are and who you are and a real sense of transparency and honesty of what your expectations are because sometimes as parents.


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Niki: We don't realize that we have expectations of our kids that we don't express and we asked them to fulfill those expectations all the time, but without being explicit about what exactly we're expecting.


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Niki: So sometimes we get in disappointed that they don't do something.


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Niki: When we've never even said that we thought it was important because we take it for granted.


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Niki: Yes, and.


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Niki: I think it's important to keep that in mind.


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Julie Pabion: hmm that's a very good advice, it happens, a lot yeah in in any kind of relationship actually where you're like well for me it's the bare minimum that, how can the other person know when.


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Julie Pabion: Exactly the different life and experiences and so on, so yeah it's it's very interesting Thank you so so much Nikki I absolutely loved our conversation and.


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Niki: It was delightful.


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Julie Pabion: talk for hours.


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Julie Pabion: But.


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Julie Pabion: yeah no Thank you so much, and you're a good person, a good mother and it was so lovely to to chat with you.


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Julie Pabion

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