It’s easy to feel out of sorts these days, and our children are bearing the same stress we are, they are just perceiving and handling it differently. My good friend Dr Kathy Koch is sharing an exercise we can do to help our kids articulate what they are feeling and help them see that they are in control of something in their lives. Personally, I think it would be good for the whole family, and I took my own notes this time!
Transcribed version of podcast is below.
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Colossians 1:1-5
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Dr. Kathy Koch (cook) is the Founder and President of Celebrate Kids, Inc., based in Fort Worth, TX, and a co-founder of Ignite the Family, based in Alpharetta, GA. She has influenced thousands of parents, teachers, and children in 30 countries through keynote messages, seminars, chapels, and other events. Her newest book, Start with the Heart: How to Motivate Your Kids to Be Compassionate, Responsible, and Brave (even when you’re not around) was published by Moody in March.
Dr. Kathy earned a Ph.D. in reading and educational psychology from Purdue University. She was a tenured associate professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, a teacher of second graders, a middle school coach, and a school board member before becoming a full-time conference and keynote speaker in 1991. She has loved Jesus for years and her faith and desire to serve and glorify God is the foundation of her ministry.
Don’t Miss These!
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Thank you for tuning in to the Heidi St. John podcast. Today is Friday the 8th of May. Can you guys even believe it? This is episode number 921. This is Meet My Friend Friday, and I am having a friend back on the show with me today who I love both professionally and personally, and I know you guys love her too. My friend, Doctor Kathy Koch is on the show with me today, and we’re going to talk about bouncing back, resiliency, and how we can find it in the midst of COVID-19. Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So, thanks for tuning in today, guys. I appreciate all of the cards and letters that are coming in to me here at the Homeschool Resource Center. We have been, like you guys know, this is a crazy time for us here at the ministry. We appreciate your prayers. Lots of things in the hopper, and so if you are able to and you are desiring to support the ministry, I will link back to ways that you can do that in the show notes today and also to the address of the Firmly Planted Homeschool Resource Center. We love to hear from you. Those cards and letters and your financial support, when it comes in, the entire staff sees them and was blessed by them. So, I just wanted to say thank you guys so much for doing that. We really appreciate it.
We just started a brand new study at MomStrong International, and we’ve got a lot of new members over there. I teach a live every Wednesday over at our Facebook page, and so we hope you guys will take the opportunity and start to study God’s Word with me. You can do that online and you can do it with your children, and so check it out. MomStrongInternational.com. All right, you guys are going to be so blessed today because — I am blessed, really, because my friend Doctor Kathy Koch is here with me today.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with her, she’s the founder and president of Celebrate Kids, and it’s based out of Fort Worth, Texas. She’s also the co-founder of Ignite the Family. Many of you know that I was privileged to speak for Ignite the Family this last season, and Kathy is an amazing woman who loves the Lord. She’s an incredibly influencer with a very powerful voice, and the thing I love most about her is that compassion literally flows out of Kathy. She is the author of several books, and you guys are going to love her. Kathy Koch, welcome back to the show.
[Kathy] Thank you so much, Heidi. It’s an honor to be here. It’s a joy, and I really appreciate your affirmation. That blesses me tremendously.
[Heidi] Well, you are in the middle, right now, just like all of us, of a season of upendedness, really. So, I’m just going to ask you because everyone is wondering, what is Kathy Koch doing during a pandemic? Because you’re not like me, you can’t travel, so what are you up to?
[Kathy] Yeah, it’s so weird isn’t it? I’m usually on an airplane every week like you.
[Heidi] Yeah, me too. Yeah.
[Kathy] I’ve never been in my home this many days in a row. I’ve never learned the grocery store as well as I’ve had to learn it. It’s been challenging. I’m fortunate to have a great board of directors and a great staff, and we have really used our time well for product development. We’ve created an online course. We are creating some discussion guides to go along with my book so that when a small group uses them, they can get more out of them. We are researching the future planning parenting conferences down the road, working hard to do as much podcasting and radio things as I can to get the word out to people that they don’t have to succumb to this mess, but we can rise up and walk out and walk forward. So, a challenging time. I think we’d all be foolish to look back and regret not having created something, done something well, and I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have days of rest where we color and play.
[Kathy] Good heavens, I have a lot of grace and space for people. No shame intended here at all if you haven’t cleaned out the garage and you were going to. I mean, I totally get that.
[Heidi] Right? You know, now’s not a bad time to clean out your garage either, because hopefully this thing is going to wind down.
[Kathy] Oh, amen.
[Heidi] I mean, we’re hoping we’re going to go back to normal life. I agree with you though, I feel like there’s a certain amount of frustration that sets in when—first we heard everybody, “It’s Netflix every night of the week.” Well, it’s not good for you after a certain point. So, giving people goals and having some sort of an aspiration or something you’re shooting for in the middle of this thing is probably good for the spirit as well.
[Kathy] We have to keep dreaming, right?
[Kathy] If we don’t dream. At first kids just thought, “Well, it’s an extended spring break.” Then it was like, “Okay, is it summer?” Then, “Hello, Zoom calls with teachers,” if they weren’t traditional homeschoolers and they’re schooling at home in crisis. It’s very different, as you know, and so it’s been challenging. Now the school year, is beginning to end. I’ve watched on social media where there are homeschoolers finishing their academic year, and the public/private schools are beginning to wind down as well this month of May. Then guess what? We’re going to have summer. Well, we’ve been home a long time with our kids, and now oh my gosh. So, we have to be able to have the right attitude and a positive expectation, and we’ve got to be able to dream that this too shall come to a close, and we will rise up and there will be a new normal, but there will be something different from what’s going on right now. We have to believe that. That’s part of resiliency is having that positive belief system.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s right. I think too, and I’ve been talking about this for weeks and weeks now here at the podcast, we are responsible to guard our freedoms and to protect the integrity of the Constitution here in the United States, so I know a lot of people are watching that. I mean, I think here is the trick. At least it has been for me. My passion and my sense of justice, my right and wrong meter, is off the chart at times because I see things that frustrate me so much. I know that a lot of listeners are feeling the same way. The trick is, to be able to see those things, have a good attitude, not let it weigh on you until the point where you can’t function. I know a lot of people listening to this are feeling that way and Kathy, I’m curious how you feel because I’m feeling— if a parent feels that way and the parents going down the rabbit hole every day and they’re frustrated and discouraged, and they feel helpless which is a lot of how parents are feeling right now, we project those things onto our kids. Right?
[Kathy] Oh, absolutely. So, we have got to give our kids grace for anger, and frustration, and fear, and talking back, and disrespect. I’m not saying that you excuse it and you just go on our way, but I think we understand that there are legitimate reasons that we’re under stress and we’re confused and concerned, and kids, whether it be boredom or whatever is going on, we give them time to grieve. Grieve what isn’t, accept what is. One of the things that we teach at Celebrate Kids is wishing it so won’t make it so. So, I’m huge about, what’s the point of complaining? All complaining does is change the attitude from good to bad.
[Heidi] Well, that’s good. I’m going to write that down, Kathy. You should say that one more time. What?
[Kathy] I think that all complaining does is change a good attitude to bad.
[Heidi] Man, that was a Holy Spirit smackdown. I need that.
[Kathy] Well, thank you. I’m not saying that we don’t allow adults, spouses, and children to communicate their frustration. We have to let them be heard. I’m simply saying that over and over again if every night at the dinner table you complain about the same thing, there’s a hopelessness and a despair that enters into that. So I would say to people—What can we do? What can we influence? What letters could we send? What smiles could we provide? What prayers could we pray? What will we do differently the next time that we’re in a similar situation? How will we prepare for the next situation that catches us off guard? There are some things that we do have control over, and that’s what I would want. We always control our attitude. We should never let someone control that.
[Heidi] Even the people on the news, right? I mean, we’re letting people that we don’t even know control our attitudes.
[Kathy] Absolutely, absolutely.
[Heidi] So, you’ve got an awesome book that we’ve talked about here on the show, but I thought this is a great time to bring it back to people’s minds. You wrote a book called Start with the Heart, and I was blessed to be able to review that and endorse it for you. I think I would like to bring back something that you talked about. You said you did this find five exercise, and as you and I have been discussing before the show, we’ve got to give people some hope. Something to actually do so that we’re not just sitting here stewing, just frustrated. You had this great idea. Can you explain it to people?
[Kathy] Yeah, I would love to. So, there’s a couple ways to do it. Take a piece of paper, fold it into fourths so that you open it up and you have four boxes. Or, simply take a piece of paper and draw a vertical and a horizontal line, and you’ve got four boxes. The idea here is to, again, encourage the family to dream, to encourage children to dream. In the upper left-hand box, if you can picture this, write the word BE. Just the letters B-E. Just the word BE. Then in the box to the right of that, write the word DO. Then in the two bottom boxes write the word HAVE and the word HELP. Usually I do the exercise, it’s called find five.
So in your lifetime, what are five things you want to be, five things you want to do, five things you want to have, and five things you want to help or five causes you want to help? I think now we could do it when the stay at home orders are lifted, what are five things you want to be? Five things you want to do, five things you want to have, and five things you want to help? Even now in this season, next week. We could also do it, depending upon the age of the kids, before your next birthday, before the school year begins, before you graduate from high school. There’s any number of time frames we could use. What’s interesting, Heidi, is to compare what children and adults in the same family write down.
If you’re married, what a privilege for you, and you do it separately from your spouse and then you compare, it’s a wonderful way to find out whether or not you really are on the same page with the vision that you have for your family. Do you want to have the same things? There’ll be some differences, certainly. It’s so much fun with kids because when I’ve done this, and we’ve done this with thousands of kids at Celebrate Kids, and we’ve had kids who write down things like, “I want to be a mom,” but they didn’t write down, “Be married.”
[Kathy] So, it’s a chance to have a conversation. I remember this eighth grade boy. I will never forget this. He wrote down he wanted to be a police officer and have a Ferrari. That was a conversation waiting to happen.
[Heidi] That’s so awesome. I love it. I’m wondering too, this is giving parents, I think, something constructive to do right now because let’s be honest, it’s wearing thin right?
[Heidi] Most of us have done the things. My husband told me last week, he’s like, “Man, Heidi. Don’t give me any more house projects. My life is starting to look like an episode of Home & Garden Television.” “Oh, I know. Let’s plant a garden. Let’s clear out the back 40,” whatever. You know?
[Heidi] This is something different and something positive, and I love the idea too because I wonder, what’s different? I think we could find out a lot about ourselves. What did we want to be, do, have, and help before the pandemic and has it changed that?
[Heidi] Do we have a different perspective? Are we seeing things differently?
[Kathy] I would hope so. When somebody, for instance, writes down that they want to be generous because they realize that there’s a time of real need, and the other one that I’ve seen happen is be content. All of a sudden contentment is a huge goal because people are frustrated, and Biblically, contentment should always be a goal. So, the magnifying glass has come upon the way we’ve lived our life, and do we have a Christlike character? Back to the exercise. Are you raising your kids where you would want the be box to be about character? To be wise, to be healthy, to be loving, or do you want them to say, “To be rich,?” Do you want them to say, “Be happy?”
If you do have kids, let’s say they have four kids and all four of them write down, “Be happy.” No shame there, and maybe that’s telling you that they’re really in a season of unhappiness, and that’s why they value that. Then you say, “Well, what does that look like for you, Jeremiah?” You listen to Jeremiah’s response to happiness, and you might be shocked to discover that it’s something simple you could do. Or maybe you’ll find out that it’s a pie in the sky impossibility, and that’s why he’s depressed, because he has as goal that will never happen even if we get out of our home eventually, which of course we will do.
[Heidi] It’s so important. I’m looking at this too. I’m thinking about my own kids. I’ve got just three left at home, and my youngest one is, I think for the most part, our kids are handling it pretty well partly because they’re homeschooled, frankly. They’re used to being around us. It’s definitely wearing on them. We have the Homeschool Resource Center here, Kathy, which I keep talking about. We need to get you out here, and they’re used to seeing their friends at the resource center. Anybody who’s listening to this who’s been homeschooling knows homeschooling does not mean social isolation at all. Right?
[Heidi] I’m noticing that children, and we have had unfortunately in our area now we’ve had two suicides of young children, a 13 year old and a 16 year old. The dad of one of these kids was talking about the isolation has just worn on his child. He had gotten in trouble at home for something, which he should have gotten in trouble for, so his dad instituted, “You did this, so here’s the consequence,” well three weeks later, the child had another outburst. Did exactly the same thing, and rather than feel like he could go talk to his parents, and I’m not trying to shame the parents, I don’t know how you’d prepare your heart for this or even see it coming, but he committed suicide.
My husband and I, talking about this in the evening one time saying, “We really want to be tuned in,” and actually because of that and because of this father’s plea to the community, we had one of our children in particular we thought, “Okay, this child. I don’t care about COVID-19 anymore, she needs to be with a friend. She needs to see somebody. She needs to do something else.” I’m wondering, how do they have those conversations with their kids? This exercise is kind of a way maybe to start those conversations.
[Kathy] I love that you’re seeing that. It does give kids permission to admit what’s going on inside, and some children and teens have told me that they were surprised at what they saw themselves writing down. That they didn’t realize that that was an important enough concept to make the top five. I’ve heard the same thing from adults. Then I think what it empowers us to do as a family is to make the things happen that can happen. Wouldn’t be interesting to find out if two of our kids had the same thing they wanted to do and now they can partner? From a marriage standpoint too, Heidi, are husbands and wives talking and communicating and are they healthy at home in this season? I’ve loved the stories through the years when I’ve done this with families. One of my favorite stories, and this is so typical or it sounds trite maybe, but there was a woman who wrote down she wanted to skydive by her 40th birthday, and the husband did not know that. He saw that on this piece of paper and he arranged to have that happen.
[Kathy] I know, and the woman, the wife…
[Heidi] That’s fun.
[Kathy] The wife had never felt like she could say that. Like, “That’s so pie in the sky, and my husband will think I’m nuts, so I’m not even going to bother going there,” but this allowed her to be honest with herself and they saw where they were on the same team and where they could have conversations, and what they could do to honor and bless each other. You could do the same thing with kids. It can be a way to make something happen where again, hope rises when you see that there’s something I can do here. There’s something I can wrap my mind around.
[Heidi] I love that. I’ve got a question, sort of a practical question, because I’m thinking this through. I love the application to marriage because so often we focus on our children. Love that application. I know that a lot of moms and dads, we’ve been together a long time now.
[Kathy] Yes, yes.
[Heidi] Not going to work, we’re not doing the normal thing. You can only have macaroni and cheese so many nights out of the week. Starting to get bored, maybe I think starting to get frustrated. I noticed my husband and I argued the other morning, which we rarely do. I mean, you know Jay.
[Heidi] He’s very, very even tempered which is great, because he’s married to me. The other day, we were just sitting in bed, and he always brings me coffee in the morning. One of the things I so love about him, and we hadn’t had our morning coffee. We were just sitting in bed talking and I said something about the things that are going on around the house. He just, I mean, he just snapped at me. He was like, “I have so many other things to do. I can’t do anymore projects. I’m not doing the work I normally do,” and me sitting there thinking, “Well shoot fire.” That’s not what I meant. I thought, “Boy.”
I told him. I said, “Jay, I’m so sorry. I did not mean to come across that way. I can realize.” I know this is not just me. I know this tension is happening in homes across the country, because you can only be in this weird sort of upside down scenario for so long before it actually starts to manifest itself some way and somehow. The nice thing about Jay, 15 minutes later he came upstairs not only with coffee but with a cookie. I was like, “Aw. I’m getting a cookie in bed.”
[Kathy] You married well.
[Heidi] I did, I married up. I’ll tell you what. Anyway, but I love this idea of going to your husband to say, “Hey. Why don’t we do this with our kids?” If he maybe wouldn’t normally do an exercise like that, I even think my husband would be like, “Really? I won’t do that necessarily for you. I’ll just,” but if I said, “What if the whole family did it?” Now all of a sudden you’ve got an unintended marriage help while you’re helping your kids. What a great idea.
[Kathy] I’ve seen it work. I appreciate that so much, and I think for a married couple too if you say that you’re on the same page and you have a vision and a mission for your family, and you want to be known as being generous, or joyful, or grateful or whatever is a value for you and that’s what you want— does it show up here? Or did only the wife mention it where the husband’s values are clearly very different? So, it can help us understand why things are the way they are, and why we’ve got dysfunction, and why we’ve got maybe discord and why some kids aren’t connecting well, or why we’re not connecting. Absolutely.
[Heidi] Yeah, I love that, and I’ve got another question for you. So, let’s say I wanted to do this with my kids. Do you suggest leading? Do you say to them, “Hey, we’re going to do these top five things and under the BE category it can be something you want to be, like a doctor, or it could be a character trait that you want to have,” or do you just let it free flow and see what they do?
[Kathy] You know, one of my favorite stories, thanks for the question, is a family in Sacramento who did it with three preteen and teen boys. After they did it independently, they came together to see, where was their unity and where was their differences that were totally legit? Really a fun conversation. A sibling said, “Well, I didn’t know that that was a goal you had.” Then they prioritized. As a family, they voted. Democratic process, if you will, which I think our children should understand.
[Heidi] Yeah, right.
[Kathy] You could almost vote and say, “Okay. Next week, which of these do things would be appropriate, fun, possible? What should we wait for the winter to do?” You, maybe, calendar it out. It’s a concept, again, of honoring because you know what Heidi? Kids need to be heard, and so do husbands and wives. Kids tell me all the time, “Doctor Kathy, I’m a part of that family but it feels like my mom’s house.” One of the things I say, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard me say this Heidi, but I love to say that if you have children in your home and I come over, I better see toys in your house.
[Heidi] Yeah, right?
[Kathy] Don’t put every game away because it’s their house too, and that’s just a little example but I think it gives us a chance to have a conversation and to have some agreement, and to honor the differences and to make things happen again. So, I love that idea of looking it over, voting what’s good to do now, and maybe siblings discover that there’s something they have in common and they’re willing to tackle that help project where they want to help their elderly neighbor and they decide to do it together. Or whatever the case may be, and again, I think one of the most important things that happens is the discussion about what’s realistic, and what’s unrealistic, and why. Is it a timing factor? Maybe that’s a great thing. You’re going to have to be 16 before you can tackle that, and so let’s help our kids understand that because I think they’re grieving things because they don’t understand that even without the COVID-19 situation, these things wouldn’t be happening.
[Heidi] Yeah, that’s right.
[Kathy] Does that make sense?
[Heidi] That’s right. Yeah, it makes perfect sense and I think what you’re doing is you’re helping families. You’re like America’s doctor, Kathy. You really are.
[Kathy] Oh, that’s so cute.
[Heidi] You could be like, “Kathy Koch, America’s doctor.” You should be working with Trump instead of Fauci, but that’s a whole other thing. We could talk about that later. I do wonder, and I guess this might be a parting thought as we wrap this up today, but as you look out on the landscape, we’ve been talking about resiliency and I feel like you’ve given us a really great way to start. Right? So you said, “Try this.” Can you, just for a minute, can you talk to the parents who feel like, “I don’t know if I can hang on for two more weeks. I’m kind of at the end of my emotional rope, if you will,” can you talk directly to those parents? Because I know that the parents who are listening to this, who are frustrated, maybe because they’re losing money or because their lives are so upside down or because they’re not getting along with their kids and they just need a little carrot. You know what? You can make it to here. What can you say to encourage those parents?
[Kathy] Heidi, I love your heart for your audience and I don’t pretend to think I have something uniquely brilliant. It’s good old fashioned— I have to, therefore I will. I mean, I don’t say that lightly. I have tears in my eyes, actually. I have great compassion for the legitimate fear and frustration, and how overwhelmed we are as adults, because we’re thinking and we’re feeling differently from our children. You know what you guys? We really don’t have a choice. So, self care. Self care. Stay in bed, go to bed earlier, have a cookie. It won’t kill you. Bake fudge and eat it all. You know?
[Heidi] Yeah, right?
[Kathy] I know a friend who has a bag of M&Ms in her master closet, and she goes and gives herself a time out when she needs to. The kids don’t know there are M&Ms in there. Do what you need to do.
[Kathy] Within reason. If you like classical music, play it even if your kids don’t. I’ve made a commitment, and this is just me, but I’ve made a commitment to reach out to somebody every night. I don’t text, I call or a FaceTime, or I Zoom…
[Heidi] I love that. I love that, yeah.
[Kathy] …with someone because I’m an introvert. So, I’m actually quite okay. However, I need people and people need me, and iron sharpens iron. Sometimes I purpose to have a reason for the call, and I admit a frustration and, “Could you speak life into this for me?” Sometimes we just spontaneously go in the conversation wherever, but I think what do we need and do we know ourselves well enough to know that? Do we take ownership of that and stop blaming and shaming others, and do what we can do? I’m going to go back to what I said at the beginning. We have to make it, so therefore we will make it. We don’t have a choice, as hard as this is. We have to make it because God has entrusted our family to us. Why are we a family unit? So get help, reach out, no shame, no blame. Absolutely. Thanks for asking the question. We could talk for a whole ‘nother 30 minutes about that, I love the question.
[Heidi] Yeah. Yeah, well your heart for people, it is a thing that has drawn me to you the first time I ever stood out in front of a church in a parking lot when our ride didn’t come and talked to you forever. I was thinking, I remember telling my husband that night, just what a precious individual you are. What God has given you, an amazing gift of compassion and mercy, and also just straight up common sense. I think there is a point in which you just have to say, “Hey. Sorry you don’t like it. This is where we are and now we’re going to pick up and we’re going to go forward,” and I love that you started off by saying, “Stop complaining, because it’s not actually helping.” That was really good for me. I wrote it down. I was like, “Heidi, cut it out. Knock it off.” So, I think those things are really good. Kathy, where can people find you online?
[Kathy] CelebrateKids.com is where to go. You’ll find everything you need there. Appreciate you letting me say that.
[Heidi] Absolutely, and your books are there right? So, the book we talked about was the title of that book, again, for those who didn’t hear me, was Start with the Heart. Correct?
[Kathy] Right. Start with the Heart has resiliency and relationship building, and then in the newest book, Five to Thrive, also talks about resiliency because it’s a skill really for security and identity that we rise up. Absolutely. The books are there. We’ve got pocket guides, and posters, and bookmarks, and MP3s, and all kinds of things. My blog and videos are there for people to hang out with.
[Heidi] Awesome. Kathy Koch, you are a treasure. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. It’s just been a joy to have you.
[Kathy] Thank you very much for inviting me. I really appreciate who you are, what you stand for, and the way that you get your messages out. You’re doing a great job for the Kingdom, Heidi.
[Heidi] Thank you, my friend. For those of you who want more information on my friend Doctor Kathy Koch and her ministry to families at Celebrate Kids, I will link back to all things Doctor Kathy in the show notes today. We always do Mailbox Monday here. If you’ve got a question for Mailbox Monday, who knows? Maybe I’ll bring Kathy on and she can help me answer some of your questions. You can submit those questions to me at HeidiStJohn.com/MailboxMonday. I hope you guys have been encouraged today. I know I have been. We are praying for you. Hang in there you guys, we’re going to be okay. The Lord is still the Lord. He’s still on his throne. Stay faithful everybody, and I’ll see you back here on Monday.
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Heidi St. John
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