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Mona’s Blog

The information contained on this blog is not a substitute for training, continuing education, clinical supervision, or the importance of individual consultation for each child and family. All identifying information, including names and other details, has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.

Recently, a 13-year-old autistic student died after staff members at his Northern California school physically restrained him for an extended period. And the parents of a non-speaking, autistic 12-year-old  have sued his school for placing him in a seclusion room after a behavioral outburst. Teachers forced the child to strip naked before they placed him [...]

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In my last post, I suggested that we should appreciate meltdowns for what they are: a child’s way of signaling that he needs something from the adults around him—or from his environment.  When a child experiences a meltdown or tantrum or acts aggressively, he is communicating that he has exceeded his ability to intentionally control [...]

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Anger, meltdowns, and tantrums get a bad rap. As parents, we worry that these behaviors indicate that our child is choosing to misbehave or that we’re somehow failing as parents. The judgmental stares and glances we get from onlookers only increases those insecure thoughts. We read books about what to do and try to tame [...]

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What’s the best way to teach children how to regulate their own emotions and behavior? Occupational therapist and educator Leah Kuypers devised one approach, The Zones of Regulation, which has gained international popularity. “The Zones” is a groundbreaking cognitive-behavioral approach that helps adults teach children about self-regulation, which includes self-discipline, emotional control, anger management, [...]

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It’s past midnight and “Amanda”can’t fall asleep. She’s focused on her meeting the next morning at the school where her son is struggling in a program not suited to his unique needs. As she mentally rehearses her appeal for better support for him, she’s also bracing herself for the response she expects: polite “no’s” and [...]

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Amelia’s parents contacted me because of a problem in Kindergarten. Her teachers reported that she often began to cry around lunchtime, and when they asked her why she was crying, she couldn’t answer them.  They tried to distract her, and even offered her a trip to the class “store”, (stocked with fun prizes) if she would [...]

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Behavioral challenges are the “tip” of the iceberg, and the answers to helping children are often found below the surface of behaviors. Take Ben, for example, who was a puzzle to his parents and teachers alike. In kindergarten, he struggled to stay in his seat, and his teachers constantly reprimanded him for not complying with [...]

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Decades ago, when I was in graduate school studying child psychology, I was taught that children often do things to get “negative attention.” At my clinical training sites, it was common to hear things such as, “Oh, Johnny is creating drama to seek negative attention” and “The best strategy is to ignore him.” When I [...]

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Several years ago at a professional training I conducted on parental stress, an 80-year-old mother raised her hand to share an insight. A psychologist and mother, she explained that she had a 50-year-old son with special needs. “Everyone told us to institutionalize him,” she said, “that he would be functioning at the lowest levels, and [...]

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Recently I experienced a difficult moment with a young client—and gained some insight in the process.

In the midst of a session in my office, something triggered the 8-year-old boy into a “red zone” and he suddenly burst out yelling and screaming. His mother and I had seen this happen before, and we typically reacted [...]

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