Dr. Mona Delahooke on the Power of Brain-Body Parenting
In addition to Brain-Body Parenting, Mona is the author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges. I spoke with Mona about Beyond Behaviors two years ago on this podcast, and if you haven’t heard that conversation, I encourage you to go back and have a list. In addition to being a writer and psychologist, Mona is a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant to parents, organizations, schools, and public agencies.
In this conversation, we go deep into Brain-Body Parenting, a book which honestly sparked MANY a ha moments and caused me to reflect on so many aspects of my own parenting journey. Mona and I talk about why it’s never too late to make changes to our parenting approach, what our child’s “platform” is and how we can help our children have a sturdier one, the critical role of our co-regulating to support our children, and the hopeful news and science that Mona is encountering in her work.
About Dr. Mona Delahooke
Mona Delahooke, PhD. is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than thirty years of experience caring for children and their families. She is a senior faculty member of the Profectum Foundation and a member of the American Psychological Association. She is the author of Beyond Behaviors and the upcoming book, Brain-Body Parenting, and is a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant to parents, organizations, schools, and public agencies. She lives and works in the Los Angeles area.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- What Mona means by the phrase “brain-body parenting”
- Why it’s never too late to change our parenting approach and make improvements in how we handle challenging situations with our children
- How to look past children’s difficult behavior and deeply understand why they are responding the way they are
- What the green, red, and blue pathways represent in brain-body parenting
- What Mona defines as our child’s “platform” and how we can help our children have a sturdier one
- What the “just right challenge zone” is and how we can help children stay there
- What some of the biggest barriers are for parents in embracing the new perspective of looking beyond tough behaviors
- How can we help others (teachers, etc.) adopt a deeper understanding of the brain-body parenting and connection
- Why every child benefits from a brain-body parenting approach
- The importance of parents prioritizing self-care in order to effectively co-regulate
Resources mentioned about brain-body parenting
- Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids by Dr. Mona Delahooke
- Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges by Dr. Mona Delahooke
- Social and Emotional Development in Early Intervention: A Skills Guide for Working with Children by Dr. Mona Delahooke
- Deconstructing Oppositional Defiance Disorder (blog post)
- Oppositional Defiance of Faulty Neuroception (blog post)
Special message from our sponsor
Progress Parade specializes in one-on-one online tutoring for differently wired kids through executive functioning coaching, Orton-Gillingham and Wilson instruction, specialized math tutoring, and educational therapy. Visit progressparade.com/tilt to learn how TiLT subscribers can claim a free tutoring or educational therapy session! Based on your child’s unique needs, Progress Parade will hand-pick a specialist to turn learning challenges into superpowers in the classroom.
Visit progressparade.com/tilt to learn more about receiving a free session. Join the Progress Parade!
Debbie Reber 00:00
Progress Parade provides one on one online tutoring for differently wired kids through executive functioning coaching, specialized reading and math tutoring, and educational therapy. Tilt listeners can claim a free session at progressparade.com/tilt. Come join the progress parade!
Mona Delahooke 00:21
I just want to again set the record straight that, from the evidence from relational neuroscience, our human bodies is now coming in very strong, without dispute, about what builds resilience. And what builds resilience is attunement and responsive care when we’re responsive to those emotions and not viewing it as a temper tantrum or something that we should ignore.
Debbie Reber 00:53
Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host, Debbie Reber and I am so excited to share this episode with you. Because my guest is someone I’ve come to know and love and respect and learn so much from Dr. Mona Delahooke. If you are not familiar with Mona, she is the author of the book Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges, which we talked about together on this podcast about two years ago. Well, Mona has a brand new book that is out today. And it is even more powerful and profound if that’s even possible. It’s called Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids. So a little bit more about Mona before we get started. Mona is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than 30 years of experience caring for children and their families, as well as a senior faculty member of the Profectum Foundation, and a member of the American Psychological Association. She’s also a frequent speaker, trainer and consultant to parents, organizations, schools, and public agencies. But today, we’re going to talk all about Mona’s new paradigm shifting book, Brain-Body Parenting, which honestly and you’ll hear this in our conversation, it sparked so many aha moments, and caused me to reflect on many aspects of my own parenting journey. Mona and I talk about why it’s never too late to make changes to our parenting approach, what our child’s platform is, and how we can help our children have a sturdier one, the critical role of our co-regulating to support our children, and the hopeful news and science that Mona is encountering in her work. I am just so excited to see how Brain-Body Parenting supports children and families as it makes its way into the world. So please listen, really listen and share this episode with your friends. One quick thing before I get to the conversation, I wanted to share an exciting new opportunity with you. Many of you are familiar with Dr. Nicole Tetrault, the author of Insight into a Bright Mind and a recurring guest on this show. Well, in addition to being a neuroscientist, speaker and author, Nicole was also a meditation teacher. And she’s offered to run a virtual meditation class just for the tilt parenting community later this spring as a way to support parents and families. Nicole and I have put together a quick survey to learn more about what would make this meditation class most useful for you. So if you would be interested in a special meditation class for the Tilt community with Nicole on the mindful practices guiding the heart and the mind, please take one minute to respond to the survey. You can find it at tiltparenting.com/meditation. That’s tiltparenting.com/meditation. Alright, and now let’s get to my conversation with Mona. I hope you enjoy it.
Debbie Reber 04:13
Hey, Mona, welcome back to the podcast.
Mona Delahooke 04:15
Thank you so much, Debbie. I’m so excited to be back.
Debbie Reber 04:18
I’m so excited you’re here. And usually I start like, Tell me your whole story and your personal why. And there’s so much I want to talk about that. I don’t want to spend a lot of time there. But tell us about your wife for this book, because we’re talking about your new book, Brain-Body Parenting. And you told me when we first talked about this book that this is like your most favorite book, that this is the book that you’re so excited about even more than Beyond Behavior. So can you kind of tell us about the why as part of your story in writing this book?
Mona Delahooke 04:52
Yeah, thanks. So this was the dream book that I’ve always dreamt of writing for parents, although I loved writing Beyond Behaviors. Beyond Behaviors was kind of in my office voice, in my nurturing, helping parents voice navigate systems. And a bit of the, you know, the system change that I really believe needs to happen, to when I saw children being essentially either punished or reinforcement scheduled or sticker charted for their individual differences and not respected for those unique differences. That was a huge driving force behind my blogging and, and writing at all, because I just, it wasn’t, it wasn’t squaring, with what I then knew about how human beings develop resilience and trust in the world. So it’s all been an incredibly fun journey. And so beyond this book, Brain-Body Parenting expands beyond the idea of behavioral challenges to basically every aspect of rearing our children. And the reason I wrote it, the why, is that as a psychologist, as a child psychologist over the past 30 years, you wouldn’t believe the amount of advice that parents get. And some of the advice just leaves me with my mouth hanging open, like really, your pediatrician recommended that or your IEP team recommended that and, again, no blame or shame on fellow providers who I believe everybody has children’s best interests in mind. But I wanted to set the record straight from my point of view, what I’ve learned from the people, I think, are the best neuroscientists in the world, and just give parents a comprehensive, yet friendly guide to their child, and hopefully help reduce suffering and increase joy in our relationships. So that’s the why.
Debbie Reber 07:00
It’s such a good why. I love that you’re like, I’m setting the record straight. And you said from my perspective, but you know, everything that you share I so resonate with, and I know that our listeners will as well. So I just have to say for me, to set the record straight. I talked with my humans about this at dinner last night, I was saying, Oh, I’m going to be talking to Mona. I read this book, and I was talking about the book. And I will say that all I kept thinking over and over and over again, is I wish I could do this all over again, like I’m sitting across from my 17 year old. And there’s so much heartache and pain and suffering for our whole family that I feel, had I had access to this information I could have avoided and I you know, and I’m not big into the blame, the shame and the guilt and all those pieces. But I actually just wanted to talk about that piece. Even before we get into it for parents. Like I think this is a valuable read no matter what age your children are. Is it ever too late to repair? Is it ever too late to make changes?
Mona Delahooke 08:04
The short answer to that is absolutely not. It’s never too late because our brains and our bodies are constantly updating our predictions about the world. That is the most hopeful message from the latest neuroscience, including Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett, who, who I use quote a lot in the book. It’s never ever too late. And just from my heart, I mean, I almost have tears in my eyes. I think I do when you said that, because I feel the same way. This is the book that I wish I would have had. Yeah, it’s emotional. It’s me, it’s you. It’s all of us. And that’s okay. Because, you know, parenting is hard, and each of our humans is unique. And if I would have had this information, I would have used it, but we do the best we can with the information we have. And so it’s it’s, I hear what you’re saying, but I think but I and I hope that the main message of the book is that our relationships with our kids are always in flux. I am updating my children’s predictions and they are adults. So I’m so grateful for that because the past doesn’t determine our future. The past can be used as the most amazing, amazing launching pad for understanding each other better. And it’s bi-directional. My children are understanding me better and then I am understanding them better. Bi-directional. This is a dyadic process.
Debbie Reber 09:50
Yeah, that’s really helpful to hear and I will say you know you said in the beginning that this was very personal like your voice, you do share a lot of Stories, I read some stories, I was like, Alright, if Mona’s experienced that I’m okay. Like, I’m okay too, because you’re very human, you’re very vulnerable and you share, you know, you share some of your less than brilliant parenting moments. That is really a gift to the reader the way that you just show up as yourself on the page. And it feels like, it does feel like you’re having coffee, right? You’re having a conversation with a gentle guide.
Mona Delahooke 10:23
I’m so glad. That’s music to my ears. That’s what I wanted it to feel like. I wanted it to feel gentle because we are smothered in judgment from internal and external sources. So I’m so glad that it felt reassuring. And yeah, I am human. And I’m actually a sensitive human with extra sensitivities. So the chances of me having little ruptures and needing to make repairs is probably more than the average parent. So I have a lot of stories, and there’s a lot more than I could have told. Maybe I’ll save those for the next book.
Debbie Reber 11:04
The next book. So in the very beginning, you say there is no one size fits all approach to successful child rearing. What’s most important isn’t the rules, but the child. And that was just one of many things that I read that I was like, Yeah, of course. But I was also like, Oh my gosh, right. And you talk later in the book about, you know, these different philosophies, like we can be supportive, or we can focus on letting our kid fail, or we can prioritize, you know, this and that. But none of that matters if you’re looking at the child. So can you talk more about that piece and really understanding who our kids are?
Mona Delahooke 11:45
Yes, that’s it. And again, you know, me, I’m inclusive. So I love those different parenting techniques that are, that have mindfulness and, you know, a relationship based and all those things, they’re, they’re all great. But to me, our best parenting decisions, our best way to know our child isn’t just looking at our child’s behaviors, but how our children how each of our children, if you have more than one, everybody processes, interprets and understands the world, from their unique brain and body. And it will be different from ours as a parent. And this whole idea that we can develop a roadmap that’s customized to this child’s nervous system is what I do in my work. And to me, with parents, I can help you better if I help you understand your child, then if then if I give you scripts that might work for a particular situation, but oftentimes, you know, I’ve used scripts before, that sounds great. But in the moment, they kind of fall short for my child, because there’s so many things we have to consider at the same time.
Debbie Reber 13:07
Yeah, and I’m always looking for scripts, and they are great, but it’s true. There is just something about the way like I said with every chapters like it just kept hitting me over and over and over again, it’s like a deprogramming that we have to do to really realize and this is the example I when I was talking with Asher and Derin about this at dinner last night, I was talking about the pathways. And I’m not finding the exact example. But this idea that we look at a challenging moment or a big, you know, meltdown, which I parented through a lot of tantrums and meltdowns that Ash had, you know, many years ago. And this reframe of wow, my child is like out of control right now and having this intense behavior, and this is hard and looking at the behavior and not thinking, Oh, my child’s in the red pathway. That alone I was like, okay, mind blown. Like if I had just said, Oh, Asher’s in the red pathway, it would have changed my complete experience. Can you talk about that difference?
Mona Delahooke 14:10
It would have changed my complete experience, too. So I too had a child who had explosive reactions to what seemed to be everyday events. And her well-meaning pediatrician freaked me out about that. He’s like, Well, okay, I’m really concerned about this, we have to consider and let’s see if it fits into any diagnosis. And you say that to a child psychologist who didn’t have this additional lens is like, oh, my gosh, you know, Have I done something wrong is there you know, and Trudy’s genes coming through and with a weird tendency of a psychiatric illness. I mean, all those things that I was trained in graduate school floating through my head, instead of Oh, She’s got a weak platform. Right now she’s vulnerable, her nervous system is detecting threat. And, hmm, let’s be curious about that. Oh my gosh, sure enough, this child was highly sensitive to certain auditory frequencies and to and to light and dark. And, you know, that would have been heaven sent information that I would have said, not only would I have felt less blame for myself, but then I would have had a way to help her and connect sooner. As it turns out, I had a child who had a very challenged autonomic nervous system. And the actual diagnosis for that didn’t come through until she was an adult. So this is new information. It’s very good information. I’m so glad that it’s helpful to you as a lens, because Oh, and it’s for me, too. I’d be like okay, I’m red right now. Or Wow, I’m feeling blue, I’ve been feeling blue for two days, I need to maybe take a peek at that. These different color pathways are actual states of our nervous system that we can have compassion for.
Debbie Reber 16:17
Yeah, and just for listeners, this is something we go into quite a bit in. The last conversation I had with Mona about her book Beyond Behaviors is the red, green and blue pathways. So I’m going to include a link to that whole conversation in the show notes. Please listen, if you haven’t, but would you mind just taking a minute for people, so they have context today to tell us about those three pathways?
Mona Delahooke 16:39
Sure. So the pathways are an easy way to understand more about our autonomic nervous system. And the theory base that I feel is the most useful in translation is the Polyvagal theory. There are different theories of the autonomic nervous system, but we all have one. And so my colleague in the early 2000s, coded them through colors, and I use the colors so basically, they we have a social engagement system, which is a green pathway, this is where we’re feeling calm, we are we are this is where our children in ourselves, we’re open to learning, we’re cooperative, our, our body is calm, our physiology is stable. And what you see on a child is basically rhythmic breathing, being able to to play to learn to be flexible, it’s just kind of a state where you can see it, they’re basically in a, in a calm, safe place in their body and their physiology. However, of course, we don’t all live there all the time, we can’t because that life presents challenges to us either inside of our bodies, like a stomach ache, or, or a thought that’s really distressing, or from outside from from the environment. So then we have the sympathetic nervous system, which I call the red pathway. And this is where our bodies detect threat. And then all of a sudden, there’s a whole cascade of changes in our physiology to protect us. And here you will see things related to movement. So fast, impulsive movements, the child may be breathing heavily, their heart rate may increase, they may get sweaty in their hands or on their face, you will see that their breathing may not be as regular. And here’s also where we would see running away. And on the extreme eye, you know, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, things like that. It’s basically when the nervous system is trying to protect itself through movement and get back to the green. So we don’t have to fear it. But we have to pay it, we should pay attention to it because it’s a sign of distress. And this is I think the main point in beyond behaviors is that this is a sign of distress, and not a purposeful misbehavior. We would call a stress behavior or stress reaction. And that can bring us to a lot more compassion and also better techniques, but much better techniques to help that behavior. Calm down. And then finally, really quick, the blue pathway is the pathway when individuals are exposed, generally exposed to great amounts of stress for a long period of time, and then the body starts to kind of lose hope. And there’s disconnection so there’s slowing of movements, there’s not a desire to play, the child may look super drowsy or depressed. And then they’re, you know, they’re not seeking contact, they’re kind of the body is kind of shutting inward, to conserve energy. And this would require, you know, a lot of support and engagement to help them want to feel hopeful again, and also I just want to say that all of these pathways are functional in humans. And we don’t have to be, we would expect to cycle in and out of the green, blue and red. And now we know there are mixed pathways and blended pathways. But for simplicity’s sake, we’re not concerned, if you or your child feel blue or down for an hour or a few days, we’re really talking about weeks or months of disconnection. So we want to put it into its proper context. Our children sometimes are just going to flip out and want to move. But it’s just valuable, a valuable clue rather than something to necessarily start to think that you need better or more intense discipline.
Debbie Reber 20:46
Thanks so much for explaining that. So you talk, you mentioned the word platform earlier, and you have this concept in the book about your child’s unique platform. And you refer to a sturdy versus a vulnerable platform. So can you tell us a little bit about that, as always reading, I also was wondering if differently wired kids, by default, have a more vulnerable platform. And I’m not sure if I was getting that right.
Mona Delahooke 21:10
I think that different wire kids, at least in my clinical experience, we can say may very well have a more vulnerable platform. The only reason I’m saying that is that our platforms are determined by the ways our bodies take in sensory information. And we know that many of our differently wired kids have differences in their sensory processing, because they’ll all humans take in information. So I would say that’s a pretty good guess. Now, of course not all of our children would have a more vulnerable platform. But let me just describe the platform, the word platform I use as a shorthand for basically the brain and body connection. Because we’re never just a brain. And we’re never just a body, we’re always both. And, for me, the missing part in the parenting literature that I that I kind of, zoned in also and beyond behaviors was that a lot of our interventions are brain focused there, talk therapy, and helping children learn new ways to cope and having them memorize responses, and maybe even just working on their behaviors, they’re kind of top down approaches, which inherently there’s nothing wrong with that. But when we take into consideration the whole platform, the body and the brain, then we can figure out how to help make it more sturdy. And so kids with a sturdy platform when they’re feeling in the green, and when they are what I call have a body budget, that’s nice and flush, right, that’s, again, from the theory of constructed emotions is that they’re flexible, they’re calm, they’re cooperative, they’re sturdy. But when we have a vulnerable system, a vulnerable platform, then we will see children who might look inflexible, rigid, defensive, those words that come up when a child maybe throws an iPad and breaks it right or smacks a sibling. That is an indicator of a vulnerable platform. And then it kind of gives us in order for us to start to help the child. How do we help that platform get sturdier so that we can talk to them about what just happened?
Debbie Reber 23:35
Excellent, thank you.
Debbie Reber 23:39
And now a quick break for a word from our sponsor. Progress Parade specializes in one-on-one online tutoring for differently wired kids through executive functioning coaching, Orton Gillingham and Wilson instruction, specialized math, tutoring, and educational therapy. Visit progressparade.com/tilt to learn how Tilt listeners can claim a free tutoring or educational therapy session, based on your child’s unique needs. Progress Parade will handpick a specialist to turn learning challenges into superpowers in the classroom. Visit progress parade.com/tilt to learn more about receiving a free session. Join the Progress Parade. And now back to the show.
Debbie Reber 24:26
One of the things you talk about is the just right challenge. So because so much of this as I was reading and by the way, there are so many great examples and anecdotes in there. So you really give parents an opportunity to see, you know, situations that they may resonate with and relate to. But so many of the kids that the parents listening to this show, we’re raising spent a lot of their time in the red zone, like the red pathway is kind of their home base. So it’s hard to know, right? How much do we push? How much do we back off? Like where we even kind of start this work to help our kids become more regulated?
Mona Delahooke 25:05
That’s the big question. Because the challenge zone or what generis, called the just right challenge, that’s a term that’s popular in occupational therapy is that you want to give the child the just right challenge, because without a small degree of challenge, you don’t learn anything new. Right, the brain has to recognize that, oh, there’s something new here to learn. So we don’t want to take away challenge for our children, but we don’t want to overwhelm them with the activities or the tasks in their life. So it’s finding this just right zone. And to me, it’s getting to basically having them be in the green, but moving toward, it could easily move towards like green or, you know, light pink, and finding ways to titrate basically, through one of our biggest tools, which is co-regulation, which is using our relationship, using our tone of voice using our own emotional state, our own platform, kind of sharing our platform. And it’s, you know, I have to say it’s, of course, this is a learning curve. And it might be a little easier with younger children, because their platforms are more malleable, but we can help our children stay in that just right challenged zone through our relationship and through the tools we use, we pull out based on what we know about our child. And that’s the cool part is that we can customize our interactions, to pull out the tools, we need not just to pull out generic tools.
Debbie Reber 26:43
Right. And I’ll just say on that co-regulation piece, another conversation I had with my husband about this, I feel like this is a true confessions conversation. I remember a time and I may have written about this where you know, Asher was maybe four and had just had an epic meltdown at a mall and I brought, you know, ash out to the car and got them strapped into the car seat. And some therapist or someone had said, you should always have reading material with you. So you can just wait it out. So I just stood outside the car, and I read a magazine while my child was completely losing it. And so and so I was sharing that. I’m like, do you remember when that happened during and there’s like, Yeah, I’m like, Do you know what we were supposed to do? In that moment, we were supposed to not ignore a child, we were supposed to use our ability to regulate to, to co regulate with them. And like Derin was like, Oh, crap, like, you know, it’s just one of those moments. But it is such a powerful part of this work. And it’s not easy. To be fair, it’s not something we’ll get every time but it is so powerful.
Mona Delahooke 27:53
It’s not easy. And sometimes it won’t even be possible. Sometimes we just have to be steady and realize that that nervous system basically needs a few minutes to try to regulate. So it’s not easy. But oh my true confessions like yes, I, I remember a moment to oh my gosh, dropping off one of our most our most sweet and vulnerable children to this precise three year old preschool class where the the schools, the school said, if the child’s crying or very upset or reaching for you just you just you just need to ignore it. And my adorable husband, who was very sensitive, did it. Like twice and, and then it was like, something’s wrong. This is just dreadful, there’s something’s wrong here. And we pulled her from the school. But to be honest, I heard from a parent last week, who was given the advice that you have, it’s the best thing to do is just wait it out. And do not contact the child when they’re in this response. So this is current advice as well, that we really need to, again, not to feel, don’t feel shame or blame parents if you’ve been told this and that if you’ve if you’ve done it because your child knows they’re loved. And we can always update their experience. Just know, you’re not alone. And that’s why I hope this book gets around because I just want to again set the record straight that from the evidence from relational neuroscience, about our human bodies, is now coming in very strongly without dispute about what builds resilience. And what builds resilience is attunement and responsive care when we’re responsive to those emotions and not viewing it as a temper tantrum or something that we should ignore.
Debbie Reber 29:54
Yeah, and you do address it’s a myth really that coddling is a bad thing. You have a section where you say that the check in is the new time out. So you are kind of really tackling some of these very strong beliefs that so many parents live by unquestioningly. What are some of the other biggest, maybe barriers or blocks the parents have to really embrace this new perspective?
Mona Delahooke 30:20
Well, that I think that one is the biggest one. And inside of yourself, I get that, but also from maybe neighbors and maybe parents, grandparents, or, you know, people in the checkout line at the grocery store, do we have this cultural problem with worrying about whether we’re coddling children? So I just wanted to say that responsive care isn’t the same as coddling. coddling would be giving your child everything they want, or never saying, No, we’re never having a boundary. And of course, children need us to set boundaries for them, they don’t know what’s best for them as a little toddler, you wouldn’t let them eat five candy bars if that’s what they want to eat. But you can still set good boundaries and be empathic in this new lens of, of not judging a behavior but viewing it as distress. You can do both. You can chew gum and walk at the same time you can be empathic and loving, and still set those necessary limits. So I think that when people have an immediate wonder about it, just to just to feel reassured, if this is not permissive parenting, it’s attuned and customized parenting with the nervous system in mind.
Debbie Reber 31:51
That’s great. Part of this happens in our own families, but also our kids live in a world in which they’re interacting with other people. And, you know, you have examples of this. And so much of where the really challenging stuff happens for my listeners is when their kids are in preschool when they’re in those early elementary school years where there is a certain way, or expectation about what I guess it’s really compliance, but what behavior should look like, and then we have these kids. So we often get so much pressure from teachers and school administrators to fix or address this very concerning behavior. So how do we navigate that reframe and help other people see what’s really going on? I know, that’s the life’s work, right? But how can we help facilitate that understanding?
Mona Delahooke 32:42
Yeah, well, it’s the life’s work, but it’s also such a pressing question. Because in our education system, it’s set up to view behaviors in that older paradigm. It’s just set up, that’s that way, it hasn’t updated itself, the field of education hasn’t updated to these newer concepts after the decade of the brain came and gave us all this information, which, I guess, isn’t that long ago, right? We’re when system change, I’m told system change takes decades and decades. So what do you do? And I, you know, I was just reading like, in my Facebook feed today about stories that that parents are saying exactly what what you just said, Debbie, how do I explain to the teacher or how do I how do we how do we not come across as like, you know, interfering parents or not wanting our children to wanting to helicopter or whatever. And it really is, I think, disseminating information. And breaking down the older notions that don’t allow for the child’s the human’s nervous system to be taken into consideration when they are in distress. And there are amazing groups out there like the Alliance for against the collision and restraint for example, many of our children are restrained or secluded, and it’s actually allowed in quite a few states still. So the journey I think, partly is maybe a little bit of activism, a little bit of just joining with other parents, people in till parenting and your communities, and others are beginning to send this information out. But on a practical level, here’s what I found helpful. Usually within a school, we can find one adult who gets it and sometimes it’s a school counselor. Sometimes it may be a vice principal or a teacher. aid. I mean, it could be somebody who’s a PE teacher, you really only need one adult on that team who gets it, who can kind of advocate for the child and also work from the inside. And that’s kind of exciting. So try to find one person, one adult within the system, to maybe start to break down some of those conceptualizations. And I also want to say that there are a growing number I hear from them every day, a growing number of persons who have been educated as behavior therapists who are shifting their models on their own. And so they’re growing, it’s quiet, it’s quiet, because of course, people have jobs, and they’re hired to do certain things. But there are growing numbers from the inside. And I think it’s shifting quietly from the inside. And it’s a big system. And also, it’s a very expensive industry, there’s a lot of money involved in behavioral intervention. So it’s, it’s complex, but I just want, I hope, parents can find a little bit of hope and understanding in knowing that I’m hearing a lot of success stories from emails every day that things are changing bit by bit in places around the world.
Debbie Reber 36:18
That’s great to hear. And I love that practical advice of finding that one ally, who can support from the inside, as you were talking, I was thinking about, again, this community, the listeners to this show, we’re raising those neurodivergent kids. And so we always feel like we’re kind of up against systems. And you have a whole chapter on making sense of the senses. And my aha moment for that chapter was that sensory processing issues isn’t just something that neurodivergent kids struggle with. Everyone has their own unique response to sensory information. And that again, I was like, oh, every child benefits from this approach. And so listeners if you have parent friends who are raising neurotypical kids share Mona’s book share this episode, because their children will benefit from this as well, they have a stake in the ground, they have an important role and PTA is in school systems to help push for better awareness of this to so I don’t know why it just struck me. I’m like, That’s right. We all, we’re all unique.
Mona Delahooke 37:31
I’m so glad that it brought this up for you. So one of my pet peeves is that there’s this idea that something called sensory processing disorder only happens to, you know, a certain amount of people who have a certain amount of characteristics, difficulty with sensory experiences. But the truth is, the only way any of us understand our world, if you are human, is through our sensory systems. It’s universal, not just for our differently wired people it’s for, it’s for all humans, and mammals. Essentially we have, we are responding humans. We respond to the information that comes in from inside of our bodies, those sensations from inside our bodies, and from the outside world. And that’s the only way we are in the world with this only way we know how to move, what to say, how to feel. And so I’m so glad that that came out in that chapter because I wanted it to be universal. This is not this should not live in occupational therapy in this tiny little field, for goodness sakes. I was at the park, walking in the park the other day, and I saw a little child having a reaction to a sensory experience. And the parent had no clue what was going on. Because pediatricians generally don’t talk about how is your child processing information through their touch system, their auditory system, their taste system? No one talks about it, we have to.
Debbie Reber 39:07
Yes, yes. I mean, this is a big book. So when I was talking with my publisher about Differently Wired, and I was like, it’s like, Oh, this isn’t just a parenting book. This is a big idea book. And you know, your book is a big idea book. It’s a paradigm shifting book. So that’s why I love it so much. And I’m so excited about it. And I want to kind of start to wrap up here. But I just want to say that I really appreciated you have a whole chapter in the book about how we as parents can get back in the green zone. And you really do talk a lot about the importance of our own self care. And the last chapter was on flourishing, and I loved that as well. I’m a big believer in looking for ways to spark and create joy in our lives and really having those focusing and prioritizing on relief. ship and connection. And I loved that you use the word gezellig, which is such a great Dutch word. So knowing what we’re all experiencing and living through right now, do you have any thoughts on how families can really prioritize working on flourishing and taking care of themselves so that they can really be that co-regulator, so they can be that strong parent for their child?
Mona Delahooke 40:25
Yeah, that I wrote that chapter in, I think that would have been around September of 2020. You know, so in the, in the, in the height of where I was in California, of social isolation from the pandemic, where we were. So it came from, from a place of both longing in my own heart to have connection, but also reflection on all the stories that I’ve heard from people about their peak childhood memories, as well as my own. And as you know, from the book, my, my grandma, my Dutch grandmother, herself, you know, that, that, that cozy relational feeling, are my own personal best memories that I can call on anytime I want. When I am desperate, I just I, I zoomed back to her presence and the coziness I felt in relationships. So you need a couple things in order to have those cozy relationships. Number one, you need to feel well enough yourself. And I realized that probably right about now, micro moments of self care for us is more realistic than if I say self care, I really am not meaning going over and having a two hour massage. I’m basically talking about maybe even being aware like, maybe I can drink a cup of water by myself right now. Or maybe I can go outside and look at the beautiful sky or look outside at the snow falling or just breathe. Because I know how stretched we are. So I don’t want it to sound like oh, yeah, go get self care as a privileged, you know, thing that certain amount of people can do, I’m just talking about our platform is that as as parents and caregivers and partners, we need to have a platform that’s decent enough, that’s strong enough to support our kids. And so that’s why I say in that chapter on ourselves, is that it’s not, it’s not optional. And I know, you probably read there that I did put my I felt very energetic I had, I was pretty good at multitasking as a mom. And I did put myself second. And sometimes it almost felt heroic in a weird way. And I wish I could do it all again. Because now I know for my children who can tell me as adults that they really felt the impact of my multitasking. And I was sometimes a mom that was hard to pin down emotionally. And that’s, again, from my heart, if we can learn to have cozy moments that it’s okay to settle ourselves into the green. If you are one like I am, to have a system that needs a lot of movement. Sometimes it might be a little harder to have those cozy Moments with your kids, but they are and then there’s that research piece to resilience, again, is that it doesn’t take a ton of moments. But a one caring adult in a child’s life who settles down with them, like my grandmother did for me, just builds resilience in human beings. So it’s one of the most beautiful and loving things you can do for yourself and for your children.
Debbie Reber 44:02
So great. So before we say goodbye, is there one for people listening? One thing you would hope that they take away from this conversation from their book that will support them in the middle of what is most likely a pretty challenging parenting journey. Well, a couple things.
Mona Delahooke 44:21
One, I want you to feel sturdy. And understand that if you hear things from professionals and from other people looking at your child that makes you feel insecure or uncomfortable. Please know that all of our fields related to pediatric child therapies are getting updated. And so you might be getting information like I did, that made me scared. And so I would say know that you’re not alone. Understand that it’s hard, but also be really gentle on yourself and your child and understand that this actual situation of what’s coming out, as we translate neuroscience into practice, is very hopeful. And we don’t have to buy our culture’s labeling of differences of brain wiring differences or other differences as negative. We can celebrate them as part of this unique, gorgeous human being that we have the privilege of walking alongside. So be gentle and have hope.
Debbie Reber 45:34
That’s a good message. Thank you so much. And listeners, the book is Brain Body parenting, how to stop managing behavior and start raising joyful, resilient kids. As they’re listening to this, the book is available, and it is fantastic. Obviously, I’ve had many conversations about it at the dinner table with my people, and I’m sure there’ll be more to come. But thank you, Mona, for your work, for what you do to support families like ours, and just for taking the time today.
Mona Delahooke 46:03
Oh, thank you so much. Thank you for all you’re doing as well take care.
Debbie Reber 46:10
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