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When Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) Underlie Problem Behaviors

Four-year-old Wyatt was struggling in preschool, suddenly defying directions, and demanding more attention than usual. Nap time became a particular challenge. He would slither on the floor, trying to avoid his cot, in the process disturbing others trying to sleep. Frustrated, his teachers would ask him to stop bothering others, giving him few minutes to […]

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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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Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.1 day ago
The look on your face nourishes the soul of the person you are smiling at--I try to always remember this. Thanks Marilyn Price-Mitchell at Roots of Action for sharing! #Resilience #Brainhealth #relationshipsmatter #education #specialed #earlyintervention
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.2 days ago
For those interested in the top-down/bottom-up discussion, here's some background info---When we don't understand the difference, it leads to an Expectation Gap. And not just for toddlers, but for all ages. #Expectationgap #toddlerbehaviors #tantrums #positiveparenting #resilience #earlyintervention #socialemotional #polyvagaltheory https://monadelahooke.com/1210-2/
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.4 days ago
Many have asked me about the difference between top-down and bottom-up behaviors. A common misperception is that all children's behaviors are top-down -- deliberate misbehaving-- and so they are managed through punishments, consequences or rewards.

That’s the problem. Not all behaviors are top-down; many disruptive behaviors are actually bottom-up.

Bottom-up behaviors do not respond to rewards, consequences or punishments. They are brain-based stress behaviors that require understanding, compassion and actively helping a child feel safe. When we punish a bottom-up behavior, we can easily make matters worse. And this is why so many of our approaches fall short, or even deepen a child or teen’s emotional and behavioral challenges. Understanding the difference will reduce suffering for so many—including those from loving homes, to foster children who have been needlessly blamed for their behaviors, and neurodivergent children inappropriately disciplined for their natural inclinations. #Beyondbehaviors #ACES #Parenting #Paradigmshift #Neurodiversity #specialeducation #Childwelfare
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.5 days ago
Thanks Hidden Treasure with Tracey Farrell for this reframe, great synchrony with #Beyondbehaviors!
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D.6 days ago
Thanks DMDD Journey for such a nice reframe of the term "attention-seeking". #Beyondbehaviors #relationshipsfirst