In today’s episode, Dr. Tiffanie Noonan talks about EPIC Parenting. EPIC stands for: Empowered, Peaceful, Inspired and Connected. She tells us that her superpowers are intuition, energetic sensitivity and love. These superpowers have helped her in her EPIC Parenting work as she connects with parents and teach them techniques and tools to be an epic parents for their kids.
Tiffanie is a Pediatrician, certified Parenting Coach, and founder of EPIC Parenting. As an advocate for empowering children with a strong sense of self-worth, internal motivation, and empathy, Dr. Noonan speaks and writes extensively to share her message as well as serve as Board Secretary for Parenting 2.0ʼs educational non- profit, The Global Presence. She lives in Charleston, SC with her husband and 2 sons.
I am very excited to have with me today a delightful woman, Dr. Tiffanie Noonan. She’s this nice mix of the real change agents in the world, the ones that come from this pretty prescribed background. They’ve branched out from that and are doing something really amazing with it. She’s a great example of that. She is a pediatrician, certified parenting coach. She founded EPIC Parenting. I love her story and she’ll share it here with you in a little bit, about how she came from the world of pediatrics and then moved into doing something like coaching, which is just remarkable in how many lives she’s touching through that, and the impact that she’s having on the world with that really cool intermixing of talents and abilities. It’s pretty remarkable. Join me in welcoming Dr. Tiffanie Noonan to the show. Welcome, Tiffanie.
Tonya, thank you very much for having me today. I’m super excited to be able to talk to your tribe and your crowd today, and talk about how we can all be epic.
Let’s start with, what are your superpowers?
It’s very funny because I’ve had these superpowers throughout my life, but I shut them down for many years. It’s been about the past five or seven years that I’ve really been embracing the fact that I am very intuitive. I have a superpower of energetic sensitivity, which some people may not see as a superpower. I think it’s an amazing gift for what I do. A huge capacity to love beyond circumstances, to be able to transmit other people’s feelings and emotions in situations, and to love, where they get to see the love and be able to connect with themselves and others because of it. Intuition and energetic sensitivity are huge, and then, love.
I really appreciate that you gave voice to the fact that, in our language over Super Power Experts, we tell people that all superpowers start off as a challenge. Your greatest superpowers usually start off as your greatest challenges. It’s only in neutralizing those challenges that we’ve then get to see them for the gifts that they are. This is true of our predisposed superpowers, such as energetic sensitivity, intuition, those types of things, as well as those really unique superpowers, which is the big mission work that we do in the world. Almost always stems from an example of when we didn’t have that skill set or when we weren’t utilizing it in the way that we can now. I joke and say Spiderman had to get bit by the spider for a reason. There’s so much to that journeying. I love that you just called that out and are clear that it really does enhance the work that you do in the world.
It does. There was a time when I didn’t fully understand it, especially when I was practicing medicine, going through residency. I often thought that there was just something wrong with me because I so deeply felt what was going on around me. That’s not a huge asset in medicine, when you have to be able to walk out whatever room and walk into the next one and be present in a different way. It was something that I had learned. Unfortunately, it shut down and not give any credence to in my life.
As I had my own children and I started to think about what I wanted to create in my life and the world I wanted them to grow up in, I naturally had to open up to my own sensitivity and my own emotions, so that I could feel the way I wanted to feel around my children. That meant feeling a lot more than I was allowing myself to feel before. Now, it’s absolutely beautiful and I consider it a gift. I can look back on my life and see how it’s always been a part of who I am. It was part of what led me to decide to become a pediatrician. I was twelve. I decided I wanted to change the world. I saw and felt a lot of pain. I wanted people to grow up healthy. At that time, I thought pediatrics was the way to do it. I found a greater way that fits me better now. It’s always been there. It’s a blessing to be able to open up to that and really own all of who I am.
Did you find too in the moments perhaps when you were being challenged the most with it, to really take it seriously and to really take a hard look at it, that those sensitivities were heightened? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Was it your relationship with it that changed or was it the extremism of it that altered, or both? What was your experience with that?
I think it was starting to understand that it wasn’t something wrong with me. There was a time when I just thought that the way I was feeling was something that no one else experienced. I was taking it personally, not understanding that I was taking in other people’s energy. When I would go into crowded places or go to a mall, I would turn it on myself and feel like there must be something wrong with me. I would joke. In college, I must be agoraphobic because I can’t stand to go to the mall around Christmas time. There was nothing wrong with me. I was never agoraphobic. That’s not possible because I get out. I go to my job. I hang out with people all the time.
As I started to open up to it, it was just learning to accept that it’s part of who I am and self-acceptance. The more I was willing to accept it and listen to it, the more I was able to be comfortable with it and create boundaries, so that I do get to recognize what are my feelings and what are my emotions versus what are the ones that the people that are around me. Getting more comfortable with it, it is heightened because I am aware of it now, instead of attributing all of my feelings and trying to make them be about me, if that makes any sense. Before, I was like, “I must be stressed and anxious. I wasn’t five minutes ago, but it must be me,” and try to find a reason for that, instead of realizing it was the company I was keeping.
A lot of the hesitancy that people have in really harnessing these gifts is that the fear is that they never get a break, that they’re there forever. At least, my experience with it was that there were really heightened moments that felt completely overwhelming. That’s a technique that I’ve used with myself to get me to pay attention to things. Once I did, it wasn’t that the sensitivity necessarily went away. In fact, I like what you said about it’s even more heightened because you know how to use it. Your relationship with it changes. It doesn’t feel overwhelming. You don’t lose it, but you learn how to manage it in a very different way, so really wanting to get people some hope that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel on this. You usually get there through listening and really developing that relationship with it.
I would absolutely agree. You learn how to protect yourself. I can go to crowded places now because I know how to set my intention and guard my own energy. I know what my focus is when I’m there. I can pay more attention when I’m working with clients. It’s an amazing gift to be able to feel what’s going on for them. A lot of times, when they aren’t quite capable of feeling it themselves quite yet, when they’re not exactly sure of what’s going on under the surface, that’s a huge gift as a coach, to be able to say, “I hear the words you’re saying. How does this ring true to you? How does this feel, exactly what’s going on?” It’s an amazing skill. It’s wonderful with my children too. It helps as a parent.
Talk to me about EPIC Parenting and what that looks like in the work that you do there.
EPIC Parenting is my coaching business that I founded three and a half years ago, maybe four years ago now. It stands for Empowered, Peaceful, Inspired, and Connected Parenting. It is aimed at helping families create the real relationships that they want. It’s not a one-size-fits-all parenting approach where they all end up with families that look like mine. It’s really about getting clear about what type of relationships you want to have and the individuals in your home, and then really creating a peaceful connected family. I personally think it’s beautiful work because I’m helping families who either feel they’re struggling. Most people come to me when they feel like they’re struggling. I wish we had a society that was a little more proactive, but I do have some that are coming to me because they desire to create a strong foundation. A lot of times, it’s when they’re struggling.
I help them see what’s really going on under the surface and recognize their own feelings and needs, and be able to talk about those, then create connection instead of conflict, so that they end up with children that are naturally more cooperative because they understand family values. The end result is both parents and children that are knowing their worth, that know that they’re loved unconditionally, that feel their own significance and feel that they’re heard in their family, and are no longer jocking for position, but instead really working together as a team to create the family that everybody wants and desires to have at home.
You talked a little bit about the journey into pediatrics. How did you come out of pediatrics into something like EPIC Parenting?
I have two young boys and I was in practice working tons of hours as a clinical pediatrician. I had a very successful practice. I was the medical director of it. Then I had my children. I was the best parent in the world for my first son because he was very go-with-the-flow, mellow child. Then my second came along and he definitely had bigger emotions and bigger feelings. I didn’t know what to do with them. He was the two-year-old that was throwing very long temper tantrums. I was exhausted at the end of the day. I didn’t know what was going on. I started doing the things that I had been advising people to do for a decade. I’m a pediatrician. I give this advice all the time.
What I realized was that the advice I was giving, part of my language, it sucked. It just didn’t feel good. I didn’t feel like I was connecting with my son. I was still yelling more than I wanted to. I realized that there had to be a better way. There had to be a different way because this was not working for my family. The first timeout I gave, I was heartbroken. My son was devastated. I realized that this was not giving me the connection and the relationship that I wanted. I started reading and researching, and listening to everything that I could. For a year, I felt even the worst parent, to be honest, because I still didn’t have the tools. Now, I knew what I wanted to create. I felt like I had learned the brain science behind why it was so important to create that connection with my children. I was still yelling and frustrated and tired.
Then I enrolled in a peaceful parenting training course. In the course of that course, I was coached myself with a lot of the tools that I use, plus I’ve expanded upon them. I ended not yelling within weeks. My son probably within about six weeks of me starting this work, went from having these really long temper tantrums at the age of two and a half, to looking at me and saying, “Mommy, I’m feeling frustrated.” I was like, “There’s something here. This is amazing.” The connection with my children has just continued to get more beautiful. They get to be more of themselves without a lot of this conflict. I was still going to work, looking at my patients and the families in the work that I was doing and practicing medicine.
2014 is when I left practice. There’s just no room to bring this but I could see the need for it in nearly every family that I saw in my office and had the strong desire to be able to make more of a change. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do it in ten-minute office visits. I was feeling more and more out of integrity with really what my true passion was and what I was meant to do in the world. I took the leap and said, “My medical career is one thing, but my happiness and really following what I’m on this planet to do is another.” So, I founded EPIC Parenting and I stepped away from my clinical practice.
You and I really connected in the space of homeschool and have that, what I call the holistic lifestyle with your kids, correct?
Yeah, I do. I never would have imagined in a million years that that would be my life. If you would have talked to me ten years ago, I would have thought you were insane. My boys are now almost seven, will be seven next month, and eight years old. I’ve been homeschooling them for the past three years. We are together 24/7-ish. I take my time away. But we are a family that spends our days and time together. We educate together. We all learn together. I don’t get tired of them. I even have a hard time when people are like, “School’s back in session. The kids are going.” I’m like, “I can’t even imagine that.” They haven’t gotten tired of me yet either, so that’s promising.
It’s so beautiful and so affirming to hear because that’s our experience also, in fact not only just with our daughter but also in our business. My husband and I do both all of our businesses together. He tells people we’re a 24/7 family. It is just a different way of existence. It’s so amazing to check in. I periodically check in with Neva and ask her if she’s interested in school and if that’s something she wants to explore, and what the interests are and everything else. Her reasons for not wanting to do that are pretty remarkable. I love that you almost jokingly said, “They’re not tired of me yet either.” It’s such an amazing to relate to our children. I absolutely get that it’s not for everybody. I think a big part of the reason why most people can’t see themselves doing it is because of everything that you’re talking about, not having the techniques and not having the tools, and thinking that it’s just normal that we all would get on each other’s nerves and be exhausted and deal with it and all these other things. You really have to force yourself to question, “Does it have to be that way? Or can it be differently?”
It’s unfortunate that I think it’s just such a common perception in our society. It’s put out there. Of course, it’s going to be the terrible two’s followed by the terrible three’s, and parenting is hard. It’s the hardest job that you’ve ever done. These are common aspects. It’s not necessarily socially acceptable yet to say maybe we can learn parenting. Maybe we don’t have to just rely on what was modeled to us. It’s not a negative to say, “I’m going to learn different techniques and learn how to connect in a way, that it doesn’t have to feel overwhelming.” Teenage years don’t have to be stressful. We don’t have to listen to those stories. Every evening, the mom doesn’t need to drown out the whining she heard all day with a glass of wine. That just seems to be such a common perception of what parenting or being a mom is all about. I get that it feels that way. Believe me, I felt that way. I know what it felt like to live for bed time because I needed a break. I’m so grateful that I learned tools to do it another way.
I check in with my kids too. We live across from an elementary school. It’s that something that you guys want to do? They’re like, “Are you kidding me?” They also have the experience of going to pre-K, 3K and 4K before I left medical practice. They remember it. Even to this day, they talk about the time they got timeout because they repeated, somebody said, “That’s stupid.” They said, “You said the word stupid.” They’re just not feeling particularly respected there. They did fine. They were never in trouble, but they talk about experiences that left them feeling they were being treated less than the little humans that they are.
We have those stories too. When the norm is really heart-centered, peaceful coexisting, the challenge is finding other environments where that’s the case. We find that’s the only thing that I would love to see more of, are opportunities for engagement where that is the norm. We’re very lucky that we attract some amazing people into our existence. We have a lot of international-type relationships all over the world because we just haven’t found that locally, where there are communities that uphold a lot of the same values. That’s been challenging. It’s forced us to get even more creative. There’s always the flip-side of that.
It definitely opens up dialogue of how other people parent, or when my children see people being parented in a different way, they come back and they’re like, “That mom was being mean.” It opens up dialogue about people’s communication skill level. It’s nothing more than that. It’s not even necessarily a judgment. It’s expecting somebody to be proficient in calculus the first day they started. Learning communication skills and learning empathy, it’s just, “Where is your skill level on that? How much exposure have you had to and how much training have you had?” I try to teach them it’s not a judgment thing, but we get to talk about how would we have done it differently, or how else do you think she could have communicated so that they aren’t necessarily judging the other person but that they can understand that there are different ways to communicating in the world. They’re going to be exposed to all of it.
Those tools are beyond powerful. What advice would you have for parents who are sitting where you were sitting? They’re frustrated and they know that they wanted to have more with their kids. They don’t really know how to go about that.
My first advice would be for them to get curious about what else is really possible. This is a bit of advice I give to anybody, is to really look at the concept. If they’re struggling with behavior issues and they’re not having the connection that they want, to consider the idea that all behavior is really just the best attempt to get a need met. Get curious about that concept right there. “I wonder what underlying need is there. I don’t think any behavior is bad or good. It’s simply a best attempt to get a need met.” Then they can start to get curious. Then reach out to learn the skills, because you don’t have to do it alone and it really is worth doing it. Information isn’t necessarily transformation. You can read the books and look into what it is you want to create. But if you’re finding that you’re getting information overload and things aren’t changing in your family, then be willing. There’s no shame in reaching out and taking a course or doing something to learn some different skills, to see what changes I can create. That usually just makes you get super excited about what else you can do, what else you can create in your family. Start, get curious about how different it can be and trust that it doesn’t have to feel hard.
It’s such a powerful reminder to look beyond certain things. Early on with Neva, we just started calling her our barometer. If she was off, we were off somewhere. Something was amiss. Looking deep within and just checking in and making sure, “Am I emitting an energy signal that’s setting that off?” or making sure that you’re clear, making sure that your marriage is clear, your spousal relationship or partnership is clear. Then seeing if there’s a way to be of assistance for her. Not immediately thinking that it’s strictly behavioral. You’re absolutely right. The behavior is always a way to get a need met. Our job is to train our children in how to get their needs met in a way that’s not harmful to them or others.
We have to be able to recognize what’s going on when they’re younger, so that we can help teach them how to do that, so they grow into adults who are capable of meeting their own needs and aren’t relying on other people to do that. Going back to what you just said, it’s a funny story to me as I joke around. As I was coming into this work, I started to realize that on those days when I went to work and I stubbed my toe and my patients were late and it was just an awful day. I was miserable. I would pick my kids up in daycare. They were the neediest, whiniest children who drove me crazy before I ever even got home. It would be the longest night.
On those days when all the patients arrived on time and I was really connected with them and everything was going great and I took the time to get a massage after the office before picking up the kids from daycare. My kids were such joys and such pleasure. We have such fun. Then I had to take a look at it and say, “What’s the difference here?” It wasn’t them. It was me always. It’s one of those, “This is just a moment every parent can relate to.” At the end of the day, it’s usually not where they’re coming from. They’re just, like you said, a great barometer. What was going on with me and my ability? They would be needier, but it’s because they were picking up on what was going on with me.
It’s so powerful and it’s so freeing when you can see that. It requires having a willingness to look at yourself. It’s really easy, back to what you’re talking about, about we have all these big badges of honor in parenting, “The terrible two’s are so hard. We got through teething. Then we got to the teen years.” I don’t know what we’re patting ourselves on the back for because, to me, a lot of that is that constant projection and assigning of any negative behavior outward. It just can’t be. Once you know how energy and synergy works, there is a connection somewhere. Some of the conflicts happening, either within you or between the two parties, it’s never just one person in the situation. Once we get some clarity around that, even though it can feel icky in the beginning to have to look at that, it really is the most powerful place to come from.
You’re giving away one of the biggest secrets of parenting coaching. People come to me and they’re like, “You need to fix my kid.” I’m like, “Okay.” About four weeks into working together, they’re like, “We’re still talking about me. I must be doing something wrong.” I’m like, “Yeah, but how’s your child’s behavior?” The parenting issues have actually gone away because most of the work we do is actually on the adults and their own perceptions, and being able to look at it. That’s the big secret about parenting coaching. At the end of the day, the majority of the work that we do is really helping the parents to be able to look at themselves and see how things are a reflection on them. Then of course learn the tools to connect with their children and learn how to parent playfully, and really learn how to speak so that their kids hear them. Those are clearly tools that are important. But none of them are effective until you’re willing to take a look at yourself. That’s the first thing I teach in all my patients, is presence and evaluation of your feelings and needs as well as your child’s.
I know a lot of our listeners are going to want to know more about you and the work that you do. Where can we send them?
You can send them to EpicParenting.org. That is my website. On there, I actually have a free e-guide or they can sign up for a newsletter. I’m also running a free twelve-day EPIC Parenting challenge that they’re always welcome to sign up for. It’s fun. It’s actually text-based, so it meets you where we live in our world today. You get a daily text every day with a little short three to six-minute video and a little action plan for the day, to show you some of the tools that we employ with EPIC Parenting, and see how, in even just twelve short days, you can start to create more connection at home. Any questions that anyone has, I’m always reachable at firstname.lastname@example.org, and sending me an e-mail. I can send them any links or answer any questions that way as well.
Thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Thank you so much for having me. It was truly an honor to be here today.
To all of you out there, as always, we appreciate your loyalty. Thank you for listening. Until next time, go out, uncover your superpowers and change the world. Take care, everyone.