Values-Based Parenting (with Courtney Bilton, BCBA)

Values-Based Parenting Featured Image

Courtney Bilton joins Erika to discuss the use of values-based parent coaching. This framework is founded in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). She shares how it has shifted her own parenting perspectives as well. Courtney takes a humble approach recognizing that even the most skilled professionals don’t have it all together when it comes to parenting. Courtney also describes what parent coaching may look like for families and when they might consider reaching out to a parent coach for additional support and direct coaching.

Interview Highlights:

  • Courtney Bilton is a Behavior Analyst and parenting coach. She infuses empirically supported Acceptance and Commitment Training, also known as ACT, into her work as a parenting coach to support families in values-based parenting. [0:45]
  • Courtney will share more about how she taps into those values as a parent in order to make positive changes and support your child. [1:11]
  • Courtney began working in autism services in Ontario and has done that for the past 13 years. She was able to tie her passion for parent coaching into her graduate research. When she completed her master’s thesis on teaching parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders to use Applied Behavior Analysis. [1:25]
  • Courtney aims to provide some simple parenting strategies that are backed by science. She collaborates with a range of professionals and parents in her social media content and live events to help caregivers determine their next steps as they become more confident in their parenting skills. [2:04]
  • Courtney started learning about ACT just recently. A year ago she was just finishing up maternity leave with her second child and she was returning to work in the middle of a global pandemic. [3:25]
  • At the time, values weren’t on Courtney’s radar. Understanding what values were and then taking stock of her own values completely switched her parenting framework [5:24]

“I value connection. I value kindness and compassion. I value security.” — Courtney Bilton

  • Courtney doesn’t approach parent coaching specifically with a plan to use ACT. It’s just one of the many tools that she has in her toolkit as a clinician. [9:40]
  • The funding model that Courtney works within usually results in three, one-hour consultations with the family. [18:07]

“As a behavior analyst, my expertise is in the science of behavior.” — Courtney Bilton

  • Parent coaching is very different from what Courtney does when she’s doing one-to-one work with a client. In her role as a clinician with a client, there are a lot of boundaries that need to be upheld for ethical reasons. When working specifically with parents, there are different considerations [23:04]

“Parenting is a skill. It’s not just something that we are born with innately.” — Courtney Bilton

  • Many of the clients that Courtney works with are diagnosed with ASD and they’re often preteens. [25:07]
  • As all behavior analysts will do, Courtney is collecting data on her client’s ability to display what has been defined as a target skill. For example, a social group might be targeting sportsmanship in that session. Data is collected throughout the session on the client’s ability to display the defined elements of good sportsmanship [25:29]

“The wonderful thing about values is that they can change.” — Courtney Bilton

  • Courtney started her Instagram account Bilton Behaviour when she was on her second maternity leave. Skillfulness is a value of hers. She thought that if she could create behavior analytic content that is easily digestible, it would be a way for her to hone her skills as a behavior analyst. She then started connecting with parents and other professionals. As this happened, her values shifted more towards connection and building that community while getting feedback and input from colleagues. [29:28]
  • The best advice that Courtney received as a parent is no advice at all! She has found that everyone has an opinion and it was hard for her to get advice from so many people. [31:55]
  • Courtney mentioned some of the people that she follows that have reliable content such as Jess of @ourmamavillage. She has a nice balance of behavior strategies supported by science and relationship development [33:41]
  • Another fellow Canadian is Cindy. She’s @curiousneuron and she has lots of research-backed parenting tips. [34:01]

“My sweet spot is the place where compassion and science meet.” — Courtney Bilton

  • Courtney covers Amelia’s book in her virtual book club. She’s also had Amelia on Instagram Live for a series of interviews with experts who are also parents and discuss the struggles of their own parenting. The series is called, “My Kid Doesn’t Care That I’m an Expert” [37:16]

“The exact same challenges that we help our clients through are the same ones that we’re facing.” — Courtney Bilton

Guest Bio:

Courtney Bilton is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst and mom to 2 young children. She began working in Autism services in Ontario 13 years ago. She was able to tie her passion for parent coaching into her graduate research when she completed her master’s thesis on teaching parents of children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders to use Applied Behavior Analysis.

Courtney loves supporting parents to uncover their values and goals. She tailors evidence-based intervention strategies to meet the unique needs of each family. Courtney’s Instagram account @biltonbehaviour aims to provide simple parenting strategies that are backed by science. Courtney collaborates with a range of professionals and parents in posts and live events to help caregivers determine their next steps as they become more confident in their parenting skills.

Photo Of Courtney Bilton

“Understanding what values are and then taking stock of my own values switched my whole framework on parenting.”

— Courtney Bilton

Resources from this episode:

Related articles and podcasts:

We’re trying out transcribing our podcasts using a software program. Please forgive any typos as the bot isn’t correct 100% of the time.

Read the Transcript:

Erika Ng

Welcome to Behavioral Health Collective podcast, a community of behavior analysts who are passionate about sharing our science by connecting families to information that promotes meaningful behavior change. We are a community of practitioners who seek to empower parents by sharing effective behavioral strategies and evidence-based practices from the perspective of behavior science while also advocating for better access to behavioral health services for a wide variety of families.

Thanks for tuning in. I’m Erika Ng, founder of Behavioral Health Collective. If all parents know, things can get challenging from time to time. Sometimes need a little extra help and guidance that’s personalized to you and your child’s needs. Sometimes you might feel confused about the direction or strategies to use with your child.

Today, we have Courtney Bilton who’s Behavior Analyst and parenting coach joining us to share more about her values work with parents. Courtney infuses empirically supported Acceptance and Commitment Training, also known as ACT into her work as a parenting coach to support families in values-based parenting.

As the research literature for ACT demonstrates helping people orient towards their broader values helps them get through moment-to-moment challenges. Today, Courtney will share more about how she taps into those values as a parent in order to make positive changes and support your child. Courtney Bilton is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a mother of two young children.

She began working in autism services in Ontario and has done that for the past 13 years, so she’s quite experienced. She was able to tie her passion for parent coaching into her graduate research when she completed her master’s thesis on teaching parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders to use applied behavior analysis.

Courtney has always loved uncovering with parents our values and goals so evidence-based intervention strategies can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each family. Courtney’s Instagram account is amazing, and that handle there I’ll link in the show notes, but it’s built in behavior and behaviour with a ‘u’, because she’s Canadian. 

And there she aims to provide some simple parenting strategies that are backed by science. Courtney collaborates with a range of professionals and parents in posts and live events to help caregivers determine their next steps as they become more confident in their parenting skills. So, let’s get to that interview. This is a good one. 

Good morning, Courtney. How are you? 

Courtney Bilton

Good morning, Erika. Nice to chat with you. I’m doing well, thanks. 

Erika Ng

Great. Thank you so much for being here to chat on the Behavioral Health Collective podcast and share your expertise. I really appreciate it. 

Courtney Bilton

Thanks for asking me to join. I am very excited to learn about this sort of endeavor that you guys are on. 

Erika Ng

Yeah. I mean, it’s great to have people such as yourself as a parent coach come on to speak to parents and I’m just hoping today you can shed a little bit of light on the work that you do. Just to describe to parents, I guess, what it’s like to work with the parent coach.

So, yeah. I guess, especially because you work with acceptance and commitment therapy and using that in your work. I’m particularly excited to hear more about that. So I guess to start, could you maybe just describe to families what initially got you interested in bringing ACT into your work? ‘Cause you’ve worked with a lot of families with various diagnoses over time, and so how did it bring you? Yeah. How did ACT kind of draw you in? 

Courtney Bilton

So, I just started learning about ACT very recently. Like maybe a year or two ago, I started getting into it. And so, a year ago I was just finishing up maternity leave with my second child and I was returning to work virtually in the middle of a global pandemic.

And my children, daycares were shut down. So they were at home with me while I was returning to work and it just wasn’t working and I needed something new and I needed something different and something had to shift. And that’s when I really started pulling upon acceptance and commitment therapy. Pieces of that and using it myself within my own parenting of my own children.

And I thought, I wonder how many other parents don’t know about this and don’t know that this exists. And I can see that particularly working with parents of children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, which is the role that I have now. As far as I know, my children are neuro-typical and I feel like I have all these barriers to being the kind of parent that I want to be.

And those barriers are only increased when you have to layer on additional diagnoses like autism or ADHD or down syndrome or ODD, or any of the diagnoses that the families that I work with, those are diagnoses that their children have. And that just adds another layer of complication into it. And I thought I can really see pieces of this being beneficial to the clients that I’m serving.

Erika Ng

Yeah, for sure. And with, I guess, a values, clarification being a huge part of ACT. I’m wondering, I guess you kind of alluded to this, but how did learning more about ACT influence your own parenting? Like, could you give us some details on how you came to that? 

Courtney Bilton

Yeah. So, I didn’t even, values weren’t even on my radar.

And I think understanding what values were and then taking stock of what are my values, switched the whole framework that I had on parenting. You know, because I would think, you know, getting my children to eat a healthy, balanced meal, like that’s what parents do. That’s what you’re supposed to do.

That’s what I should do. But when I switched my thinking to what do I value? Like I do value health. And that is a value that I want to instill in my children. And then I could start to see that the things that I was doing and the steps that I was taking was moving me in the direction of my values and that I was encompassing those values by making sure that they had the opportunity to test a wide range of foods.

And as long as I was making those steps and committing to, like living my values, then it took a lot of the pressure off of like, ‘Okay, so if my kids aren’t eating the vegetables that I’ve set out for them, I’m not failing as a parent because I’ve done what I set out to do, and that’s showing my children like, look at all these different foods that are available. And it’s so important to me to be healthy. I hope that that’s something that you learn to love too.’ 

And if right now in this moment, they’re not interested in eating the broccoli and they’re just asking for cookies, that’s okay. And that’s not a failure on my part, because I’m still taking those steps towards being that healthy, mindful parent, because that’s what’s important to me.

Erika Ng

Okay, that’s great. That sounds really freeing by the sounds of it. You know, that as long as you’ve got your compass there of like working towards your values, it kind of takes a bit of the pressure off. 

So that’s… 

Courtney Bilton

Yeah. 

Erika Ng

Some helpful wisdom there. 

Courtney Bilton

It’s a nice starting light. It’s a guideline. It’s sort of like when you come to the point where you rethink, I don’t know what I’m doing and I don’t know what I should do next.

You can think about, I do think about like, what is my overarching goal here? What am I hoping to achieve? And then some solutions start to come to me for how I want to move forward and the steps that I want to take next, because I have that list of my values in front that I was just never even considering before.

I was just never even considering. Like, what do you do when your baby cries? Like you pick them up and you rock them to sleep because that’s what you do. But when I’m starting to get frustrated because I’m sick and tired of picking up my crying baby. And I just want them to stop crying. And when will they be old enough to tell me what they need and communicate it to me in a way that is less irritating. 

That I can stop and think, no, what are, I value connection. I value kindness and compassion. I value security. And so in that moment, I’m not just trying to get my kid to stop crying. I’m trying to display that, you know, kindness and connection and security is important to me. And by picking up my baby and soothing my baby, I’m doing the things that matter most to me. And not just running away from all the yucky overwhelming, stressful bits of being a parent. 

I’m really leading into that discomfort and then choosing to do things that in the moment are really tough and don’t feel so good. But I know that on the other side of that, there’s going to be outcomes that are just, that are deeply rewarding to me. 

Erika Ng

Yeah, that sounds so powerful. And must be such a powerful component to your parent coaching. Like now that you’re infusing that in there. And so I guess I’m curious about, you know, what do your parent coaching services look like and especially using the ACT with that values clarification for families? 

Courtney Bilton

Yeah. So I would say I don’t come into parent coaching specifically thinking I’m going to use ACT.

It’s just a little, it’s just one of the many tools that I have in my toolkit as a clinician. To say, when I sort of see that maybe the parent might like to hear more about this. I can share little pieces of that, or even if I’m not explicitly stating, Hey, have you heard about this thing called ACT and Hey, would you want to chat a little bit more about your values?

I maybe don’t make it so explicit, but I can bring pieces in. And I would even say values are, for me, are so important. But I also meet a lot of families, especially because they have children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders that there’s a lot going on. And so sometimes it can seem very frivolous or like a luxury to be able to do these values exploration. And sometimes we’re just more in, what can we just do right now to make your life easier in the moment and not do this whole big spiritual journey of like coming into contact with who you are as an inner parent and what it means to you.

Sometimes that’s just not where the focus is and that’s okay. And a lot, and there are times when I do ask parents, you know, what is important to you and what are your values? And they go, I don’t even know. I haven’t even had a second to check in with my body. I’m just in such a state of panic that my mind can’t even go there.

I can’t even think about it. So then sometimes it’s not even values work that we’re doing necessarily. It’s the, where we would start with, you know, present moment awareness or excepted, and it would be pieces of that. And we don’t even touch on values necessarily, because the parent just needs practice in identifying and accepting what’s happening in the moment and just being aware of that.

Erika Ng

Hmm. Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. So it’s a very flexible individualized part of your services. Yeah. 

Courtney Bilton

Exactly. And so sometimes yeah, sometimes parents are just like, I want to work on toilet training and I would like some visuals that go along that show my child what the routine is. And then that’s all we do, is we get the routine set up and we mail them out visuals and they work on their toilet training. And sometimes it’s more, it gets deeper, you know. Sort of my child is struggling with toilet training and I’m feeling like we’re never going to see the other side of diapers. 

And then it’s like, we’ve already got all the behavior strategies in place that are really solid, but we just have to find a way to help that parent commit to that and not get overwhelmed and give up when they’re struggling in the moment, or they’re deeply frustrated at like the millionth accident that day.

And then that’s where we can start to pull in some of the values work in the ACT pieces. 

Erika Ng

Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. Yeah. So there’s a real spectrum there of who you might use that with and not. Yeah. So I guess that also brings me to what kinds of situations are families in when they come to you? And like, at what point, cause I wonder if there’s maybe families listening right now that are wondering, do I need a coach, a parent coach to work with me versus reading a book or following someone online, you know. Do I need someone individual to coach me?

So, what would your recommendation be? At what point should a parent maybe consider getting that support? 

Courtney Bilton

I think that, so for the work that I do is actually free to parents who are in the Ontario Autism Program. So as far as, you know, a potential barrier being finances and finding a way to purchase the services of a parent coach, in particular, if your child is registered within the Ontario autism program, I would say, ‘As long as you have the time to commit to brief consultation sessions, it’s free to you.’ 

So go for it at any point in time, you know, please don’t wait until things get horrible beyond your ability to manage them. I think if you’re in a really great space and you’re feeling like you have things under control, but you would maybe like to bounce some ideas off of a clinician’s brain to do that.

If you were in a space where, you know, you don’t have, let’s say psychological support through your health benefits at work. And this is something like, okay, I’m really starting to think about needing to pay someone for these services. Then I think maybe that’s something that you’ll have to figure out. The cost benefit of that for, but I would say at any point in time on your parenting journey, whether you’re starting to hit some challenges or whether things are going really well, I think at any point you could benefit from having a parent coach. 

Having an extra set of eyes, having someone who I love speaking with other professionals, because when I speak with my friends and family, they’re really invested in their own values. And so the guidance and support that my friends and family give me while I greatly appreciate it, and I do value it so much. It is heavily, their values are deeply influenced the guidance that they give me. Whereas when you are working with a parent coach, they set their values aside and they work exclusively on bringing your values to the forefront. 

And whether, because we all have different values. Whether or not I agree with your values, if you are one of the parents that I’m working with, it has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with how can I bring you closer to those values? So I think that’s sort of a nice benefit of working with the parent coach is that they’re about you and helping you realize that rule within your family, that you want to have that dynamic within your family that you want to have.

And sometimes you can’t really get that from friends and family, because they’re going to try to influence you and bring you over to their side sometimes. 

Erika Ng

Interesting. Yeah. That’s such a great point. I actually hadn’t really thought about it that way with parent coaching, but you’re right. It’s having like a neutral other party who’s not only an expert in behavior in that coaching piece, but you’re right. Just unbiased. 

So, that’s a really good point. And I’m also glad you brought up the funding piece because that is a huge reason why, you know, we’re doing this podcast and trying to get the word out really about behavior science and how it can help families.

And so that is kind of an unfortunate piece in many parts of Canada. And I’m sure the states as well, that if you don’t have that ASD diagnosis, you really have to consider do I pay out of pocket. But I am also glad though that you mentioned that coaching can be brief. Maybe you just need to bounce some ideas off.

It doesn’t mean committing to weekly sessions for a year or something like that. So, that’s it. I think you painted that picture really well of just the range of services available. So, I’m also curious about the families that you’ve worked with and some of the outcomes, especially since using ACT in doing some of this values work, have you noticed a change in some of the outcomes of families that like has that enhanced, has that greatly enhanced your services?

Courtney Bilton

So the work that I do is a brief model. So, I do not, traditionally sort of the model that I work within would be up to three, one hour consultations with a family. So there are definitely questions or concerns that parents have, that caregivers have that can be answered virtually, remotely in like one to three, one hour sessions.

So, there’s not a lot of data collection happening or like long-term follow-up with these families. But I would say even within that short time, the feedback that I’m getting from parents where it’s appropriate to bring some of these ACT pieces in to our sessions, is a lot of families are saying, ‘Why has no one ever mentioned this to me before? How did I not?’ You know, these are parents who have been receiving services for years and years and multiple services, like mental health services as well as behavioral services. And they’re thinking, wow, like how has no one mentioned this to me before? 

Still, I love hearing when parents really connect with pieces of ACT and really feel like it is adding something and bringing a different layer or a different perspective to their supports, then they feel that they received in the past. I would say that’s probably the thing that stands out most.

Erika Ng

That’s awesome to hear, cause it’s true. I mean, we’ve all worked with families that have really been through the system. Years and years of working with various professionals. So that’s so exciting to hear that you get that feedback that finally, you know, why people care about what I value and to orient them to that.

So that’s amazing. Now when… 

Courtney Bilton

I think it’s nicer… 

Erika Ng

Go ahead. 

Courtney Bilton

Sorry. I think it’s nice because as a behavior analyst, my expertise is in the science of behavior. And, and I think that it’s easy to get caught up in those behavioral solutions. And it’s easy to suggest to parents. Well, when your child, you know, body looks like this and when your child’s voice sounds like this, then your body should be doing this and your voice should sound like this.

And it’s very formulaic and it’s true. It’s completely there’s science, all of the behavioral recommendations that I make, there’s science to back up and it works. And I think, but that sometimes what’s missing are those softer skills. And if those conversations with parents and it’s, you know, when we talk about acceptance and we talk about present moment awareness and we talk about diffusion and some of these other ACT pieces. 

When we don’t focus on that with parents, I think we’re missing a little bit because you, cause I don’t want parents to be white knuckling it. And I don’t want parents to be doing, ‘Well, Courtney said that if I do this, it’s going to make all the difference and I don’t understand why, or I don’t understand why we’re doing this. like, I mean, I get it. I get why I’m doing it. I’m doing it because my child needs to learn how to toilet it independently or I’m doing it because I want my child to get the amount of sleep that they need.’ 

So like, I mean, parents, they know why they’re doing it, but they don’t, but when they’re not connecting with their values or when they’re on autopilot and they’re not really processing or taking anything in of what’s happening from their day to day. I think parents can get run down and they can get lost and they can get burnt out.

And I just, as a parent now I see how important connection with my children is. And if my whole relationship with my child had to be some sort of therapy based interaction, I think that would be missing out on a huge component of what it means to be a caregiver. 

Erika Ng

Yeah, that’s so key. And I feel like that message really is clear in your Instagram content.

You know, just that connection with the child is so critical. And I think our field is starting to come around to that, which is really exciting. And I think ACT is a huge piece. It’s kind of ushering in that, the humanness, I guess, of it. And like the passion and connection, which is really exciting. 

Courtney Bilton

Um, cause I feel like parent coaching is very different from what I do when I’m doing one-to-one work with a client. In my role as a clinician with a client, there are a lot of boundaries that need to be upheld for ethical reasons.

And parents and children don’t have those same boundaries nor should they have those things. So I think, when sometimes when we’re coaching parents, do they need to know a lot of the strategies that we’re using in therapy sessions to be consistent and to help their children excel more rapidly because of that consistency?

Yes. And at the same time, there’s just pieces of parenting and caregiving day to day that just doesn’t exist in the therapeutic world. So we have to be mindful of, sometimes parents need, like parenting is a skill. And so parents, it’s not just something that we are born with innately. Like we, we learn how to care for our children and our children’s needs are so unique.

So, sometimes parents need support in that as well. 

Erika Ng

Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Hmm. You’ve portrayed that really, yeah, in a palatable way, you know. That makes it relatable to parents in terms of thinking about what and conceptualizing what it’d be like to work with a coach as well. So I appreciate that.

And with your ACT, I’m also wondering too about, so you do social skills groups running. What does that look like? I guess, shifting over from parent to child. So what kind of do, what are your social skills groups look like and how do you infuse ACT into those with younger people? 

Courtney Bilton

Yes. That’s something that I’m taking the social skills curriculum that we usually deliver and infusing those ACT pieces, I think has brought it up to a whole new level. Because now, so the clients that I work with are diagnosed with ASD and they’re usually like preteen, so I’m not always getting into the discussion with them of, you know, This is what a value is. And what do you think your values are? Like, I don’t use that kind of language with them. It just doesn’t necessary.

But before we go into an activity, as a clinician, in my mind I’m thinking I’m looking at sportsmanship. And I’m collecting data on my client’s ability to display what we’ve operationally defined as good sportsmanship, which is I want to see the client making comments during games to the other participants in the game, you know?

Oh, wow. That was a really interesting answer or good move or, oh man, I lost, but maybe next time. So, I want to say those are the behaviors that I want to see. And before we start the game, we always do a values check in with our client. They don’t know that that’s what it is, but we sort of say, what does sportsmanship mean to you?

What does that look like to you? Okay, is it important to you to do that? So that’s the values piece. Is it important to you even stay to your friend, ‘Hey, good move. It looks like you’re going to win.’ Is that something that you even care about or not? And so sometimes the kids will say, ‘No, I don’t talk to my friends like that. That’s not the way that we have conversations.’ 

And then that’s fine. And we respect that and we can make notes in our data collection. You know, this skill was not observed, but the client also said that that’s just not how they want to interact with their friends. So, maybe I’m extremely chatty.

And when I’m playing with people, I’m constantly commenting on what’s happening. And to me, that shows my connection. I think I’m moving closer to my values of connecting with my friends by talking a lot during the game and commenting on what’s happening. But then maybe my client says, you know, my connection is just like, if I ask at the beginning of the game, what do you want to play?

And I give them a choice, then I’m showing them that I care about them because I’m letting them pick the game. And I don’t need to be commenting throughout the entire game because that’s not the way that I show them that I care about them. The way that I show them how I care about them is I let them pick the game.

So, I think keeping that in mind, it reminds them of why we’re playing these games and why we’re practicing these skills and that we’re doing it because, Hey, you said this as important to you, so let’s practice it. Or it helps us reflect back on our curriculum and say, okay, the majority of the participants in our shows, social skills group have stated that this is not a goal for them, and this is not valuable to them.

Then we need to change what we’re doing and we need to reevaluate the curriculum to better their needs, because we’re not going to be force feeding them some curriculum that just doesn’t meet the goals that they have set out for themselves. 

Erika Ng

That’s amazing. That’s so that sounds so empowering too and dignifying that the goals of the entire program are not just tailored to them, but it really is. So you’re kind of naturally tapping into values there. That sounds so, yeah, such a natural way to infuse that and starting to teach young people about their values in a direct way, I suppose. 

That’s amazing.

Courtney Bilton

Yes. 

Erika Ng

Well that was, interesting to hear about, because I have worked with teens before and end with some social skills curriculums. And I think, it can be kind of rigid. So I like the idea of kind of infusing them the values into that. Now, just before we, I had towards the end here, I was curious about, you just chatting about your goals for your Instagram content, because you have such a great online presence.

And I think it’s content that is relatable for behavior analysts and for families. Like it’s a, there’s a wide range of people that can benefit from the content that you have there. And so, yeah, I was just wondering if you could kind of describe about your overall goals and values, I suppose, for your… 

Courtney Bilton

Yes. And the wonderful thing about values is that they can change. And I would say that that’s definitely what happened with my Instagram account. I started built-in behavior when I was on my second maternity leave and sort of, I guess like skillfulness is a value of mine. And I was thinking if I can create behavior analytic content that is easily digestible.

That would be a way for me to hone my skills as a behavior analyst. And then I started connecting with parents and other professionals, and I think, then it became, you know, my values sort of shifted more towards connection and sort of building that community and getting feedback and input from other people.

So instead of just like picking what I thought was the most important thing to talk about, then now I have like my followers saying, oh, could you do a post on this thing? And so  it’s been really nice to see all the expertise that is available and to connect with people and share what I know and have them show me what they know.

It’s beautiful. And it’s a lot of fun and I really enjoy the Instagram community. 

Erika Ng

Hmm. That’s great. So connection, I guess, is your main kind of where it’s shifted to. 

Courtney Bilton

Yeah. And I think like connecting, like my hope was that if I could just connect with at least one parent who would see the information that I posted and say, I’d never thought of it that way.

Thanks. I’m glad I came across this. This really helps. That was always my goal and so now I do see that. I do see how, a lot of this stuff isn’t even your background and where you came from. Like a lot of the science of behavior is not common knowledge and it would be so nice if we had some of that to back up, you know, what we’re doing as teachers. What we’re doing as parents.

In any role that we have, I feel like it’s a nice extra to have in our back pocket. 

Erika Ng

Yeah, absolutely. So I just had a couple quick, last questions for you and kind of like a little lightning round. So I’m just gonna ask you three questions and you can just give kind of a short, practical response to it.

So what is the best advice that you’ve received as a parent? 

Courtney Bilton

So the best advice I’ve received as a parent, I would say has no advice. I don’t like parenting advice. I don’t listen to it. And more often than not, if someone tries to tell me how they think the best way of doing something, I will go the opposite direction because I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do.

So I would say maybe a parenting advice is, when people just tell you to trust your instincts, I feel like that feels good and that resonates with me. I feel like it’s more practical advice and not necessarily parenting advice. Like if you give birth to your child, whether through caesarean section or vaginally, go see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, that kind of advice. Very helpful. 

Erika Ng

Yeah. 

Courtney Bilton

Love that kind of advice. But as far as like interacting with my children, I would say no advice, unless you’re just here to cheerlead me on and say, I like what you’re doing. Keep it up. 

Erika Ng

Hmm. That sounds very reasonable, cause I think, I mean, if we just look at the internet, there’s like advice everywhere. And not to mention, like you said, family, friends, everybody has their own opinion on things.

So, how about an internet resource? Do you have, aside from your own amazing Instagram, can you think of a, is there a website or internet resource you use regular that you would direct parents to? 

Courtney Bilton

So I would say, no. There’s not any like one place that I go to, like outside of my own research, but I’m not telling parents to go look up journal articles. But I would say, I’ll do some shout outs here for some accounts that I love on Instagram. Another fellow Ontarian, just she is @ourmamavillage. She has a really nice balance of behavior and that connection sort of relationship development supported by science.

Another fellow Canadian is Cindy. She’s in Quebec. She’s a curious neuron and she has lots of research backed parenting tips. Love her. A fellow BCBA account is Michelle @thriving.toddler. So she, I can send these to you to see her. There’s like there’s so many the childhood collective has psychologist and an SLP.

So I love when there’s that collaboration between like psychologist SLP a seed and so does a lot of collaboration with occupational therapists. So I love that too. Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart is a psychologist as well. I love her stuff. There’s just so, there’s so many, but those are just like some of my top that I’m constantly going through those posts because they’re compassionate. But they’re also, they’re backed with evidence and so it’s not, they still leave it up to you, right?

Take what you want, leave what you don’t. But here’s what the research shows us. And here’s how you can choose to use that to strengthen your relationship with your child, but also see those outcomes that we need to see so that your child can be like a thriving member of society. 

Erika Ng

Okay. That’s, yeah, that’s really helpful.

I like that, cause that, I mean, has your own values infused in the content that you’re sharing here. So I will be certain to link those in the notes. How about a book? Is there a book that you would recommend for caregivers or parents? 

Courtney Bilton

Okay, so this is like, this is my favorite right now. I’m obsessed. This is what I’m doing for my virtual book club right now. The Parent’s Guide to Oppositional Defiant Disorder by Amelia Bowler.

And it’s not just because Amelia and I went to grad school together and she’s a dear friend of mine. It’s such, like I said, my sort of, my sweet spot is rate where like compassion and science meet. And I feel like that’s what her book does. She did a lot of research to put together a guide about ODD.

And, but it’s a very kind, gentle, compassionate take on a very challenging subject. So I’ve already read it like three times, but I’m sure I’ll read it a million times more. So that would be my recommendation. 

Erika Ng

Amazing. Okay. I will also link that. I actually just finished reading it and loved it as well.

So I need to participate in your virtual book club and I get on there… 

Courtney Bilton

I start posting at the end of May. I’m going to do some more posts. I’m on a hiatus right now, cause life break, you know, life. 

Erika Ng

Yes. That’s fair. Well, Courtney, thank you so much for sharing your work. It’s really been great to hear about your work with ACT and your own journey as a parent, too.

I really appreciate your vulnerability and sharing, you know, about your transition into parenting and values, and how that’s shaped your own parenting. So, thank you so much and some great resources for people to follow as well. So, thank you. Is there any final words you have for listeners? Like anything else coming up aside from staying tuned to your Instagram at the end of May when you’re back on?

Courtney Bilton

Yeah. So I’ll be updating my virtual book club with Amelia’s book, and then I’m going to have Amelia on live and it’ll start a series of live interviews that I’ll be doing with experts who are parents who are struggling. So, I’ll be having a live series of expert parents during how, even when you have all the skills, you still come across barriers as a parent because you are human like anyone else.

And just because we have special degrees or diplomas or expertise does not mean that we are immune to, the exact same challenges that we help our clients through are the same ones that we’re facing. So that’s, I’m gonna have a live series starting in June with some experts sharing how they made it through some really tough times as parents.

Erika Ng

That’s so great. Wow. Okay. I will definitely mention that in the show notes as well. Thank you again and have a wonderful afternoon.

The comments and views expressed in this podcast do not constitute or replace contractual behavior, analytic consultation, or professional advice. Views expressed are solely the perspective of the speaker and do not represent the views or position of their colleagues, employer, or other associates.

Please seek out a behavior analyst through BACB website if you’d like to receive further behavior consultation. Until next time. Take care.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *