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You’re a Great Tech Leader, but Your Kids Don’t Listen? (Part 2)

As I mentioned last week, on my podcast, Today’s Top Leaders, I took a bit of a departure from my usual content and decided to address the fact that high achieving parents, such as tech leaders can lead tech teams, but can’t get their kids to listen.  To explore this idea, 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!

In part two of the interview, we talk about:

1. How knowing your partner’s childhood experiences can help in parenting your kids
2. Recognizing emotions and doing emotional tolerance work
3. Setting limits while validating your child’s opinions
4. And how learning techniques to improve communication with your kids can spill over into improving communications and relationships in your career

Below is an excerpt from our discussion:


Recognizing emotions


Take two high achieving parents or conscientious, engaged parents. How can we support from one parent to the other parent? How can we support each other when we see the other one who’s just flipping out?


The first work we do is some self awareness work about what was that like for you? What were emotions like in your family? For what actions were you given kudos for? In what circumstances were you given disapproval face for? Because those are the things that are going to come out and be triggered in your own parenting experience, therefore it’s important to have some visibility on it.  I actually have a trigger tracker so that people can understand what are the minefields that are going to make them go to 0 to 60.

Often when we get to that point, we go down the shame shoot. This, again, is from our own childhoods. All of our parents use shame as one of the biggest tools, unintentionally, as it’s all they knew because their parents did it.

Parents gave that awful disapproval face. Well, you learned that part of me is not accepted. Therefore, I’m going to lock that away. I’m going to repress that. But it’s still part of us and so it still gets triggered. It’s a complicated mix and we need to shine a light on it so that we can befriend it and heal it so it doesn’t control us all the time.

Setting limits while validating your child’s opinions

(example a child refusing to leave the park)


I have a skill that I teach is set a limit with a sandwich. So you set the limit but you offer the love sandwich.

The “L” is the limit because all kids need boundaries and limits. It’s the most loving thing you can do. That’s our goal. And their role is to feel about it. They can feel as pissed as they want, as frustrated. And we’re trying to teach them frustration, tolerance.

“O” is to be open and just to say, yeah, this is going to be a hard situation.  We need to leave the park. You don’t want to leave the park. That’s what is said. Don’t sugarcoat it or pretend it’s not there. It’s being truthful about it.Be open.

Next, the “V” is validate their feelings. Yeah, you really don’t want to leave the park. You are having so much fun that you you are playing in the sand.  You are building that super cool thing. Oh, it’s so hard when you have to leave, isn’t it? So it’s validate what they’re feeling. Don’t try to take them out of it.

Then the “E” is empathize which is Oh yeah, I remember when I was your age, it was so hard to leave doing when I was playing and I was engaged and I was having so much fun.

Stop to Connect


Give us your final parting words that’s going to help high achieving people, such as a tech leader, with these strong willed kids.


One of the best tools is stop to connect. If you just find yourself upset and there’s so many body clues to when we’re upset, my jaw gets really tight. Some people, they get really hot.  Others, they get stomach glitches, and some people they fix their hands. So one of the best ways to start this process is just look for your body tells.

And when you are upset, stop, you turn. Because if you’re feeling upset at them, then you are projecting and you’re taking something personally. So it’s just upset. Stop to connect and you turn and that will save you so much from things you would then have to repair from. If you do blow it, then just go, Hey, I’m going to make a repair.


To listen to the full podcast, please click here

If you want to connect with Allison to please reach her at

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