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When Trauma Underlies Challenging Behaviors: New Answers for Vulnerable Children

After years of struggling with infertility, Julia and Samuel finally decided to adopt. They were thrilled when a social worker called with news of a pair of brothers who needed a home. It took a few months of paperwork, but then they were elated to welcome home “Matt”, 3 and “Rett”, 2. Their new family […]

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What We Can Learn from a Seven-Year-Old’s Arrest

A Florida elementary school made national headlines after video emerged of a police officer hauling off a seven-year-old boy in handcuffs. According to reports, a teacher had scolded the child for playing with his food in the cafeteria and the boy reacted by lashing out at the teacher, repeatedly striking and kicking her. By the […]

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Freedom of Choice: Why Special Education Programs Should be Transparent About their Approaches

When parents enroll their children in a school, they often don’t realize they’re choosing not only a program, but a whole approach. I was reminded of this when I was asked to observe a little girl at a state-sponsored preschool for children with developmental differences. “Ana”, 3, was happily playing when she noticed that a […]

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Why Preschoolers Shouldn’t be Suspended or Expelled: Lessons from Neuroscience

Luke struggled to get through nearly every day at his preschool. The four-year-old had difficulty sitting still and following directions, and when teachers reprimanded him, he usually responded by hitting something or someone. The more they admonished him, the more disruptive his behaviors became. Finally, the school ran out of options and suspended him. His […]

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How Experiencing Joy Can Help Children and Promote Optimal Development

Joy is a powerful tool for solving childhood challenges and promoting brain health. Yet in our culture of doing, teaching, treating and pathologizing, too often we forget that when a child needs help, the first thing we should increase is joy.  This is certainly true in my own field, child psychology, in which we often […]

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The Secret to Helping Children Thrive (And It’s Not a Theory or a Technique)

I recently visited a kindergarten classroom to observe a child with “behavior problems.” When I arrived, the little boy was busying himself with an art project. He and his classmates were building towers out of cardboard box pieces. Everything seemed fine until a peer suddenly grabbed the glue from him, knocking his beloved project to […]

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The Essential Question to Ask Before You Discipline a Toddler

Susan was enjoying a weekend breakfast with her family when her three-year-old son, “Marcus”, suddenly hit his big sister. When Susan reached out to pick him up, Marcus abruptly threw his head back, knocking Susan in the mouth so hard that she bled. Susan was stunned, at once furious and confused. Why did her son […]

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A New Lens for Understanding Behavior Problems

Six-year-old “Yvonne” was an only child and the apple of her parents’ eyes. After she was diagnosed with developmental differences, they enrolled her in a preschool class that included typical children as well as those with special needs. She did so well that the following year she moved to a mainstream kindergarten class. Just a […]

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Parenting: When Being Consistent Backfires

As a psychologist, I frequently hear the same complaint from frustrated parents.  We have made every effort to be consistent in disciplining our child, they say, but our child’s problematic behaviors won’t go away. In other words, what should you do when consistency fails? Consider “Maya”, who as a toddler was pegged as a “spirited” […]

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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.4 days ago
Momentum!! I'm loving how far Phyllis Steinberg Fagell's post is going to shift the lens. We need not fear bad behaviors, we can learn from them! #Resilience #SocialEmotionalLearning #PositiveParenting #ChallengingBehaviors #BeyondBehaviors
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.4 days ago
Yes, let’s talk about this! And with all due respect let’s talk about how we are defining “preparation” to teach our special ed kids..If we continue to accept the status quo children will continue to be punished and required to undergo compliance training rather than having their Neurodiversity — including their behaviors— properly appreciated and understood. Thanks Edlyn Peña, Ph.D.-Autism Researcher for sharing. #neurodiversity #Beyondbehaviors #compassion
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.6 days ago
My talk about the power of relational safety at the SSP gathering in Florida. It was a professional audience, highlighting Dr. Porges' transformative works, and why I wrote #BeyondBehaviors. #SSP #ProtectiveFactors #SpecialEd #SpecialNeeds #ChallengingBehaviors #ACES #Resilience #Traumainformedcare #Occupationaltherapy
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
The Polyvagal Theory and the Power of Relational Safety
Dr. Delahooke's presentation at the 2019 SSP Gathering in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The Polyvagal theory and the concept of neuroception of Dr. Stephen Porges...
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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.1 week ago
Recently--at yet another meeting where a child is accused of "seeking negative attention", I'm reminded of this post. Most vulnerable children don't act out to seek "negative attention". They don't. That's not how the brain works. #resilience #beyondbehaviors #relationshipsfirst #behaviorshavemeaning #SelfCompassion
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.1 week ago
Such a fun conversation about our kids-& ourselves-with Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman