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You’re a Great Tech Leader, but Your Kids Don’t Listen? (Part 1)

On my podcast, Today’s Top Leaders, I took a bit of a departure as I wanted to touch upon the fact that a lot of tech leaders can lead tech teams, but can’t get their kids to listen.  With that idea in mind, I had a great conversation with Allison Livingston, a parenting coach for high-achieving parents, where she shared some tips on the skills needed to be a successful parent to strong willed kids. Therefore how is it that as tech leader you feel like you are highly competent in your field, but find parenting to be so hard!

Allison’s Bio

Allison is a parent coach for high-achieving parents who are experiencing intense family dynamics, exhausting power struggles, and arguments over who’s right. Over the past 20 years as the parent of two strong-willed daughters, a parent coach, conflict resolution specialist, high achieving technical sales rep, and youth mental health first aid responder, Allison has observed and/or been involved in a great deal of conflict. All of these factors resulted in the education and thriving tools that enable parents to Break The Cycle of the ineffective coping strategies they grew up with. Instead of continuing with what leads to resistance and noncooperation, parents build the skills to connect and set clear limits.

Even when you are a highly competent tech leader in your field, there are necessary skills to be a successful parent, ones that were never taught at home or in school. Allison specializes in strong-willed children, anger, and intense family dynamics and if this is you, connect with her at

In part one of the interview, we talk about:

1. Understanding and validating your child’s emotions when they are acting out
2. Building connection capital with your kids
3. Setting aside “no agenda” time to allow your child to feel empowered
4. How it is critical to learn to be comfortable with discomfort in certain situations

Below is an excerpt from our discussion:


Give an example of somebody that you’ve worked with who has dealt with a strong willed [child]? Let’s pick an elementary-aged [child].


One particular family, their child had gotten kicked out of school and he was eight. He was a very strong-willed child, fiery and was just super quick. 0 to 60. I do this.  You’re emotional, tantrum, hitting, spitting; just the worst. Most parents have been taught that they need to stop this. You need to control that and discipline.

That is not okay. You need to stop that. It makes these strong willed children feel less understood, seen, accepted. The whole model I teach is that when a child is dis-regulated, when a child is doing awful behavior at me, they’re yelling, “No”, that’s when they need our support the most. That’s when it’s the hardest for me to give.

Therefore two things are happening. We’re missing each other. I’m projecting all this onto my child that they should be listening and able to handle this. They’re eight, after all. They should not be kicked out of school. They should be listening to their teachers. And all that “shoulding” is actually shame. That’s making them feel less understood. And just more of this.

No one gets me. That’s like pouring gasoline on the fuel to their fire and they get worse, because clearly they’re not communicating, not being heard or understood. So with this boy and his family, his dad was actually in the police force and his mom was doing everything she could to try and understand him.

Validating your child’s emotions when they act out


And so he just felt missed. He didn’t have enough connection capital built up, enough trust because they didn’t know what to do for him. Therefore, I was able to work with both the parents and it’s sort of a two pronged effort. Again, this is skill building. It is increase your connection capital by having special time and no agenda time when you just really look for what’s underneath, what was going on right before they exploded.

There’s a reason. Therefore believe them. It’s even saying, I believe you. Something really matters. I get this is hard. It’s validating their experience, building trust. Being on their team, coming alongside them. Often these kids and the reason I’m passionate about this and what my experience was with my daughter was that they get all this negative disapproval base and that makes them feel even more isolated an dis-regulated.  Therefore, the first part is building the connection capital of I believe you, I’m on your team, we’re going to work this out together.

Connection Capital


Can you talk about what is connection capital, specifically?


You speak from your left brain. You’re logical, rational, analytical.  Therefore, if you’re a high tech worker, that’s what you’re trained in. That is what you specialize in. Or if you’re an attorney, same thing up in your head.  With that said we don’t have easy access. We’re not educated in how to relate, how to build connection.

Capital and connection is that there’s no right answer. There’s no way it should be. It’s just me and you. I’m curious about you.  I want to know you and I want to do things that you like to do instead of, oh, no, there’s a way it should be done. I’m going to tell you how it’s going to happen.

To listen to the full podcast, please click here.

For more information about how you can become the tech leader everyone wants to work for, please contact me so we can talk.