Topic: Neuroception

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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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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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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The Key to Supporting Victims of Childhood Trauma: Safe and Supportive Relationships

Arms and legs shackled, the teenage boy paces back and forth in a courtroom’s holding area as he awaits his hearing. This is “Tim’s” third juvenile hall visit. The charge: punching a security guard who approached him from behind, startling him into an immediate reaction. Anxious, he begins to panic, his eyes darting around the […]

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Autism Approaches Should Respect Children’s Emotions

Nearly thirty years ago, as a newly minted clinical psychologist, I was fortunate to learn about social-emotional development from the writings of such pioneers as John Bowlby, who launched the field of study known as attachment theory. Bowlby was among the first to recognize the importance of early emotional attachments and their positive impact on […]

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Deconstructing Oppositional Defiant Disorder

By the time Stuart hit second grade, his teachers had pegged him as a “problem child.” They knew he came from a loving home and could discern right from wrong, but still, he frequently started fights and caused classroom outbursts. By tenth grade, he had been in and out of various therapies and special schools. His […]

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Toddlers’ Mental Health: The Drawbacks of a Diagnosis

Recently a pediatrician phoned me with a concern about a three-year-old patient I see in my psychology practice. During a routine visit, the doctor said, “Karson” had bitten him.  In fact, the young child had a history of behavior problems. “Do you think there’s a diagnosis?” the doctor asked me. I told her I wasn’t a fan […]

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What Causes Oppositional Defiance and Challenging Behaviors?

We can shift our mindset from viewing ODD as manipulative behavior to seeing it as an indicator that the child’s physiological state has shifted to distress, leading to fight or flight behaviors.

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Oppositional Defiance or Faulty Neuroception?

Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) should be viewed as a child’s response to stress. Viewing challenging behaviors on a continuum of stress and stress recovery reveals a whole new way to think about this stigmatizing disorder, as well as a new way to support children, informed by current neuroscience.

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