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Do Time-Outs Work? It’s Time to Reframe the Question

Are time-outs an effective strategy for parents to cope with children’s challenging behaviors? Before I studied early childhood development, I occasionally used time-outs with my own children because they were touted as an effective and appropriate discipline technique. Decades later, a debate is raging about whether or not this is true. A recent Time article tried […]

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Are Baby-Soothing Gizmos a Good Parenting Choice?

Years ago, as a sleep-deprived mother of a colicky baby, I once felt so desperate after trying every imaginable way to soothe my crying infant that I finally placed her in her car seat atop the washing machine, holding her in place with one hand as the washer rumbled below. After a few minutes of […]

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Top-Down and Bottom-Up Behaviors: Understanding the Critical Difference

Did you know that there are (at least) 2 different kinds of behaviors? Most people don’t. I didn’t, even after years of college, training, and earning a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. Most graduate programs in mental health, education, social work, and medicine don’t yet consider this dichotomy important enough to teach or train about. But […]

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Why We Misunderstand Behaviors in Autistic Children— And How We Can Get It Right

An Indiana school recently made headlines after one of its special education teachers presented an autistic fifth grader with an award for “Most Annoying Male” at a school ceremony. While the incident was unfortunate in many ways, perhaps most disturbing was how it revealed that even people who work closely with such children can utterly […]

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The Two Life-Changing Qualities That Make Teachers Extraordinary

In my job as a clinical psychologist and as a mother, I have repeatedly observed two qualities in extraordinary teachers: * They provide a warm, calming presence and regulate their own emotions. * They are relationally connected and engaged with their students. It’s not difficult to see what a difference a good teacher can make. […]

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Childhood Trauma: Understanding Behavioral Challenges as Survival Instincts

This is a blog post I never wanted to write. In light of the tidal wave of neuroscience research, I had hoped that by now the fields of education, mental health and juvenile justice would change the way they view and support children and teens exposed to trauma. That hasn’t happened yet. And while I’m […]

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How To Cut Stress in Kids’ Transitions from School to Summer

The end of the school year can ban bring both fun and challenge for both parents and children. Some parents find it easy to transition their children to beloved and familiar settings such as local summer programs, day camp, or sleep-away camp.  But others experience stress and scramble to find appropriate options for their children […]

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Why Being a Happy Mom (or Dad) is a Gift to Our Children

Mother’s Day always transports me back to my days as a young mom, juggling my psychology practice with the activities of our household: three young children, a wonderful husband, and a rambunctious dog named Lacy. With all three girls active on their soccer teams and their dad serving as coach, we sometimes needed a spreadsheet […]

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When a Child Cries, Ignore the “Experts,” Not the Tears

Every parent knows how difficult it can be to watch your child burst into tears. Your instinct is to do whatever you can to bring comfort and calm the child. But in my work as a child psychologist, I sometimes observe behavioral interventionists suggest a different reaction for the children they work with, including those […]

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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.22 hours ago
Yes, Kids do well if they can. Thanks Guy Stephens and colleagues at @livesinthebalance for your work, changing paradigms.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.22 hours ago
Thank you Maggie Dent for sharing about this world-wide problem. Here in the US we have 250 preschoolers suspended each day. We must do better because we now know better!
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.2 days ago
The APA magazine's latest article on improving discipline is an interesting read. Here's my response, and I'm curious what you think!

The October 2019 article “Teaming Up to Change Child Discipline” described how parenting advice such as “spare the rod and spoil the child” has been debunked. This is an important shift, but the alternatives the article highlights—including The Incredible Years, Triple P-Positive Parenting, and 1-2-3 Magic—fail to incorporate relational neuroscience principles.

The article neglects to mention that all of these approaches condone time-outs as a parenting disciplinary tool. While time-outs may seem like a leap forward from corporal methods such as spanking, they rely on a false assumption: that all behaviors are motivated and incentivized. As Neuroscientist Stephen Porges, Ph.D. has noted, challenging behaviors are often instinctive actions to avoid threat and seek physiological safety. When children can’t connect to caring adults to reduce their subconscious perception of threat (known as neuroception) they experience stress responses, which show up as behavioral challenges.

The programs the article describes are grounded in the binary notion that children’s behaviors are either compliant or noncompliant. They fail to consider the powerful force that the body/brain connection of the autonomic nervous system exerts on childhood behaviors. A child may look more compliant after a time- out, but he or she will likely also be more stressed.
All techniques that degrade the social engagement system increase autonomic distress.

Educators, professionals, and parents should shift our paradigm from behavioral compliance to relational safety. As a clinician, I have found that the subconscious perception of threat underlies most challenging behaviors, and respectfully suggest that the solution isn’t through social isolation or “counting to three,” but through social engagement.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D. American Psychological Association
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.3 days ago
Thanks to @drnicolebeurkens for a great show talking about our favorite topic:behaviors! How we know when to connect before we correct, and the difference between "top-dow" and "bottom-up" behaviors. #Beyondbehaviors #attunement #resilience #paradigmshift
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Dr. Nicole
🌟Episode 36 of The Better Behavior Show is LIVE with special guest, Dr. Mona Delahooke!🌟⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In this episode, Dr. Delahooke and I discuss the🧠brain science behind children’s👫mood and behavior.😇Parents often struggle with approaching their children’s behavior and understanding the reason behind the action.🧐 Dr. Delahooke helps us understand that many times behavioral choices are beyond the🤷‍♀️child’s immediate control, especially if they are managing additional challenges like autism or other neurodevelopmental conditions and learning impairments. She explains behavior🤯by introducing the brain science behind children’s actions with concepts like ‘neuroception’ and gives real-life examples allowing parents to better approach and understand their children with❤️love and support.👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 ⁣⁣ Click on the link below or tune in on your favorite podcast player and subscribe to The Better Behavior Show! ⁣⁣⁣📲🖥⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ https://www.drbeurkens.com/podcast/the-brain-science-behind-childrens-behavioral-challenges/ ⁣⁣ #betterbehavior #betterbehaviorshow #brainscience #behavior #childrensbehavior #moodandbehavior #behavioraldisorder #neuroception #safety #love #support #autism #neurodevelopmental #brain #childrensbrain #health #childrenshealth #beyondbehavior
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.3 days ago
Thank you Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint for your advocacy work. The Keeping All Students Safe Act is an important bill and I hope it's reintroduced into Congress. Innocent children and teens are misunderstood and therefore mistreated every day in our public education system. We must understand that stress responses are survival mechanisms and not deliberate misbehavior. Until we do, our precious, neurodivergent humans will continue to suffer due to outdated methods. Please join your voices, I highly recommend this FB group. Let's shift the paradigm to practices that are inclusive of brain science. #safetyistreatment #Polyvagal #ACES #Beyondbehaviors #endseclusion
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.4 days ago
Thanks Janet Lansbury for this profound message! Calming ourselves as parents is the first step to emotional co-regulation ❣️

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