We want our children to be able to regulate their emotions, but how do we teach them how? How do we know if a child is deliberately testing their boundaries versus having a fight-flight-freeze stress response? If you’ve wondered about these things, you’re in luck because in this Mindful Mama Podcast episode I talk to Mona Delahooke, author of Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids.
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Mona Delahooke, PhD. is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than thirty years of experience caring for children and their families. She is a senior faculty member of the Profectum Foundation and a member of the American Psychological Association. She is the author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges, and her new book is Brain-Body Parenting: How to Stop Managing Behavior and Start Raising Joyful, Resilient Kid.
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ABOUT HUNTER CLARKE-FIELDS: Hunter Clarke-Fields is a mindful mama mentor. She coaches smart, thoughtful parents on how to create calm and cooperation in their daily lives. Hunter has over 20 years of experience in mindfulness practices. She has taught thousands worldwide. Be a part of the tribe—we’re over 25 thousand strong! Join the Mindful Parenting membership.
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Transcript of this episode:
*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Hunter: So you are a clinical psychologist you’ve been working for more than 30 years with children and families. Obviously you’ve got a passion for this. What made you get into this? Was it what made you get started?
[00:00:24] Mona Delahooke: Yeah, I do have a passion for it. And once I realized that I loved babies and toddlers. I have three, but I didn’t want to go on to having 10, which could have been easily me because it was so fun. I decided to specialize in early development, infant and toddler development. That even increased my passion and that. Over 25 years ago. And that’s when I started to study the body because when you’re talking about early development, all you have is the body.
And I learned about the work of the autonomic nervous system. One of our nervous systems through someone who became a friend of mine, Dr. Stephen Porges, who has developed the polyvagal theory. So I integrated the body into my practice. And for about a couple of decades and then became pretty aware that our education system and even my field of mental health was still very top down, was still very, judgmental and shaming of parents.
And even if children. Challenging behaviors. So I decided to start to document that, and I started a blog and a, I wrote a book called beyond behaviors that talked about the role of the body and also the difference between. Stress response and a purposeful misbehavior. And I just, you and your book, your amazing book came out in 2019.
My did as well. And you talked about a stress response and this is coming from people who are in body mind or. It’s so revolutionary and that’s my passion. That’s what gets me up in the morning. And
[00:02:19] Hunter: I’m also on I’m with you. Oh my God. Right there.
[00:02:22] Mona Delahooke: Oh my gosh. Isn’t it. It’s you know, it is, it’s almost everything. I think, understanding the bigger picture.
[00:02:31] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, the whole body, we have this conception that we’re just going to, and this is what our culture tells us. Everything is just a choice and it’s all this like kind of top down thing. And it’s the way our culture has been for hundreds of years, but it’s not, there’s so much to understand about the biology, the nervous system.
And I love that your book approaches it and. Parents about the kids’ nervous system and our own nervous system. Cause this is so vital.
[00:03:00] Mona Delahooke: It’s so vital and I honestly wish there wasn’t a need for that book that I wrote because in there I have dozens of stories about children and like you said A microcosm of our culture is the education system and the children in my practice that I knew were having stress behaviors due to their body’s interpretation of the world, around them, including the adults was not due to purposeful misbehavior, but then they were being treated with these expensive plans that involve timeouts and ignoring them.
And those things that we know stress, the nervous system, even more.
[00:03:45] Hunter: So I’m going to go back to basics here for the listener, so that, you talked about this top down judgmental shaming approach, and you talked about how, in, in your first book you talk about going beyond behaviors.
And I love that idea talking about how, the idea that. To me, as I started to understand this in a very simple way was like, oh yeah, our kids nervous system fight flight or freeze. It’s that’s like pretty much, that’s like the fully developed system when they’re born be right. Because that’s the most vital keep you alive system. Fight flight or freeze. Like those are a bunch of behaviors that happen from a nervous system response. And is this what you’re talking about? This idea that moving beyond this idea of misbehavior and looking at what is underneath this behavior? Because I think that a lot of us, this is still filtering in, like we’re not totally there yet as far as fully accepting this idea. So tell me a little bit more about that basic piece.
[00:04:42] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. So unbelievable. It has not filtered in yet into our general culture. And I’m excited about. Depositing it into parenting into the parenting world. With, I have the amount of science only because that’s how I think that’s how you get acceptance.
It’s no, this isn’t just a feel good idea. This isn’t about permissive parenting. This isn’t about just being gentle or letting your child do what they want. This is so much more than that. This is about finally understanding that nervous systems matter. And I think the piece that is just giving me so much energy around this is that it’s not just about the autonomics, like the fight or flee or freeze, but the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett.
Very popular. Her work is taking off like lightning. It segues into this and it adds another dimension. So I am so excited about this time. And I also just honor, like you found this journey through. Seeing how well it works. And I found this journey through seeing how once we do this, it worked with hundreds and almost thousands of patients that I’ve seen over the past 30 years. As much as I loved my private practice, I have to start writing because I really want it to filter into our general culture.
[00:06:14] Hunter: That’s so awesome. And Mona is mentioning Lisa, Dr. Lisa Feldman Barrett. She was on episode 267, dear listener, amazing episode. So make sure you go back and listen to it, but what you’re saying.
And you open your book with a story of a parent who’s she’s an A teacher of young kids. So she knows about how to deal with kids. And she’s totally frustrated with her child and she’s using some of the tools she knows from her classroom, she’s using the, the sticker reward, charge fees, trying to distract her child.
They had, there’s a big meltdown and. Maybe we can apply this idea of the what’s happening in the child’s nervous system to the behavior with that example.
[00:07:05] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. Great. And just an incredible, first of all, I know. In this boat of no blame, no shame. This is no blame, no shame. This was an amazing mom, a teacher, a well organized classroom.
And so she just used all her skills for, to getting to help her kid, her child prevent a tantrum and it didn’t. So the way we can think about it, I think is asking ourselves in the moment, a simple question, and that is, is. A top-down motivated intentional purposeful behavior, or is this a bottom up or a body of behavior?
We know that. Automatic, very fast behaviors like in the top, they were at target and all of a sudden he got into such a state that he chucked the candy bar and hit the cashier in the face. It was horrible for everyone involved, whatever, but let’s think about this. We don’t really distinguish body up from top-down behavior.
That’s one thing we can do right away we can think about is the body precipitating this behavior because it is suddenly in the sympathetic nervous system or what I call the red pathway. It, the child or the adult, we don’t choose that path. The body chooses it for us. It’s a protective pathway, even though the results can be horrible.
So I try to help parents understand that w first of all, let’s figure out where we are, where our body is. If we are sturdy enough, if we are present enough, if we’re not so triggered or activated ourselves, because those behaviors like when your child injures someone that can cause us so much shame and, trigger.
So it’s a, it’s really a way of looking at behaviors through this holistic brain, body lens and starting to find so much more self compassion for us, for myself as a parent and also for my child and less blame because we understand the etiology. I talk about behaviors as the tip of the iceberg. That’s just the little tip, but what’s underneath is where we get our true answers.
[00:09:28] Hunter: Okay. So where you’re looking at this situation with this parent and saying, it looks like this chucking of the candy bar was something that probably was motivated by the body, right? The child’s feeling. Threatened, the stress response is being activated. The child’s motivated. How do parents tell in a moment like that?
Like you’re saying, ask this question, a lot of us are in, we’re in a. Culture that, that assumes that kids are manipulating parents and assumes that we have a lot of like power struggles in our culture. Like as far as who’s in control and whatnot. And so it can be, I imagine it’s going to be really hard for a lot of parents to be able to tell.
Is this something a top-down thing? My child’s choosing versus is it like a body motivated behavior? Yeah.
[00:10:26] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. And the way we know the difference is through something called biomarkers and all biomarkers are the things we observe on our child’s body. It’ll tell us the difference between a motive motivated behavior that.
Thoughtfully thought out might be limit testing, which children do when we want them to, because that’s part of growing up, and a stress response, a stress behavior, which is not motivated. It is instinctual. So here’s how you, here’s how you know the difference. There are long lists and I describe it in a whole chapter in the book, but here’s some basic biomarkers.
When you are in an activated re a red pathway risk, fight or flight, you will have, the action will be very fast. It will be it could happen very fast, right? I guess seems like one minute your child is okay. The next minute they’re chucking a candy bar at the cashier. You also have different other physiological signs.
The child might have sweat on their nose. They met their heart rate may be going faster, or it may be regular. They may have sweaty palms. The look on their face actually changes the vagal nerve innovates different muscles in the face. So you might see eyes that are wide open or darting around. You will see the upper face looks.
Activated there may be growling or screaming or yelling or animal sounds, all these different things that we can see on the body, including the last one I’ll mentioned is the rate and rhythm of movement. So those behaviors that have a high movement, like running away sitting, kicking those behaviors that are so hard for us as parents.
Those are typically through our biomarkers. We can consider those stress behaviors and not motivated by. And then do you want me to use an example of the other kind?
[00:12:37] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah, that’d be great. Cause I’m trying to imagine like a kind of a top-down motivated behavior. I can imagine. I can picture like my, a young child, like looking at me straight in the eye and taking that cup and going. And just dumping it over. That would be like that one I would interpret as like you have chosen this child
[00:12:59] Mona Delahooke: right on practically. Exactly. That would be a perfect example of a toddler behavior, or later, there’s thoughtfulness, you’re grading your moving. This is a scientist.
This is a little scientist going I’ve to experiment here. I’m going to see what kind of reaction there’s going to be, and I’m going to do it on purpose. So that’s a putter, that’s a perfect example. And that could have been this little guy, the next day. Cause he was four. That is a very good example.
Older child. It might look like. So you’ve put the iPad away for the night and they know the cupboard it’s in and they know you fell asleep. So your middle-schooler may go and find that iPad and sneak it out and play video games because they know you’re asleep. That’s a very good testing behavior.
Expected. And of course we would have different consequences for that. Then if a child was suddenly on the couch and they get a shaming message on their IgE feed and all of a sudden they throw the iPad across the room because their nervous system has just detected.
[00:14:17] Hunter: Okay. Yeah. And this is so fascinating.
And this is what you’re teaching is so beautiful because this is like what I’m teaching to parents, right? Is that like, when we have these quick responses, when we’re losing it we’re yelling or worse, swatting at our kids. These are a lot of, this is not something we would choose.
It’s not something we would consciously choose. It’s an, it’s our nervous system and it’s not something that we should be. Blaming and shaming ourselves for, but we do have to take responsibility for, these are our actions, but it’s not like anyone chose it. Wasn’t like you made a conscious choice to to scream at your kids.
And we can look at our kids’ behavior the same way. They’re not making that conscious choice to chuck that candy bar or to kick their brother. You know what I mean? A lot of times it, a lot of those behaviors, so we get so frustrated. Are probably these body motivated behaviors. I imagine that’s what you’re seeing.
[00:15:16] Mona Delahooke: Absolutely. And I love what you said. It’s it applies to us just as much as it applies to our children. It’s a human thing. It’s not just a child thing. And I think once we realize, like I have a story in the book, once we realize it’s all of us, that we can be more. Gentle with ourselves and more self-compassionate in the book I had a story of, I was just on my wit’s end long day, picking up children at the line and one of my three didn’t want to get in the car.
And I broke. I just picked her up very roughly threw her in the car, and I screamed and there was, I’ll never forget the look on the face of a mom that I knew. She heard the scream and she looked at me with horror and I, oh my gosh. Can you imagine that, I was thinking I am the world’s worst person and nonetheless, I’m a therapist, so I should just pack it in and forget this whole mother thing, but I’m sure we can all think about times where we’ve lost it.
And that was a good example. In the words of Dr. Barrett, my body budget. Gone. I left it all on the therapy couch. I left it all at work. I had nothing left and it was up to me to develop awareness. And self-compassion, and this awareness of my physical needs actually, because I think as moms, we often and possibly dads too, of course, like we often, as parents are stretched and we don’t know it because our culture tells us that our brain and body are not connected.
They, we are reinforced for ignoring our body’s signals, by working long hours and pre production having a lot of productions. So it such, it just takes the load off of us. I think it gives us more compassion for ourselves.
[00:17:30] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. To understand. Yeah, we all have this nervous system.
We gotta deal with it, and we’ve got to, yeah, we’ve got to take care of ourselves or, yeah, I’ve been there. I remember like crying at the, arriving at the school, giving, giving this amazing, wonderful teacher, my child, and then bursting into tears cause of pure relief.
I just want to read it. So Mona’s talking about the work of Lisa Feldman Barrett. And Lisa says that there talks about how our brain is geared wired. Our whole body right. Is wired for survival and that we, our brain is looking at. Our body’s budget of energy, of resources of like nutritious food, right?
Like glucose and salts, whatever it translates into, like in the chemistry of it. And saying, you need resources here. You need resources here. And when we run out, then we’re, as we know. Then it useless for our children. And that’s really where that piece about self care is you actually, your responsibility comes in.
[00:18:52] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. In her words, that’s when you need a deposit into your body budget or your child’s body budget, you don’t need another withdrawal. And so that D realizing when we need a deposit as a parent, I think is transformative because it it, I think it helps us not land in those scary places that we don’t.
That we don’t want to land in. And it also gives us more of a, of an understanding of children’s behaviors. And, like we said, I think our culture is still struggling with this idea that, of how much discipline or not discipline do you give? And that’s the wrong question to me. The question is this evidence of a depleted body budget and the child in need of support?
[00:19:40] Hunter: Yes. I’d love that question. I’d love to talk about, a little bit about the, in the very beginning you mentioned the top-down approaches, the, that are judgemental and shaming of parents, of kids. Like you talked about timeouts and ignoring, or a lot of times not what kids need. What are some of the approaches that may be leftover.
Approaches from the past that are still continuing to be in use that aren’t supportive of understanding our kids. What are the things that we want to watch out for that may be things that other, parenting coaches or books are recommending to us, or even the schools may be recommending to us?
[00:20:29] Mona Delahooke: I think here’s one that just the first one that comes to mind because. It’s very prevalent and it’s a, almost a rule in the education system. It seems to me. And that is that you should ignore inappropriate. Behaviors or ignore behaviors that you are deeming as non-compliant or whatever, non-preferred, I should say, in a, in our education system do you ignore a quote unquote bad behavior?
And the new paradigm in thinking about that is what kind of behavior is this and what I’ve witnessed over and over again in the school system is that those. Behaviors that are ignored are typically stress behaviors. Those are when children are doing either a depleted body budget or their nervous system is detecting threat, which is subconscious.
There’s something happening either in the sounds in the movement, in the room or something inside their body. Puts them onto the sympathetic fight or flight pathway. And then what an individual in that state needs is social engagement is compassion is witnessing an adult saying, oh sweetheart, this is a situation.
Let’s see how we can help you. And over again, in our education system, even in our preschool and even in like things like head start teachers are taught in their training to ignore such behaviors because they are there for getting quote unquote negative attention. And I’m just, mantling that whole notion, I don’t think there is such a thing as getting negative attention.
Children want to please, as Ross green says, children do well when they can. And I truly believe that. So there’s an example, ignoring behaviors is not. Is really something I don’t recommend because we want to pay attention to what’s underlying the behavior member behaviors are the tip of the iceberg.
[00:22:37] Hunter: So I can imagine a parent listening to this and saying my son. Goes and picks on his little sister when I’m giving child number three, some attention, right? Like when, and so he’s wanting me to give attention to this, through this behavior. W how should I respond then? Because I don’t want.
Reinforce it right. We don’t want to reinforce those behaviors.
[00:23:05] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. Great question and great thinking based on what, how we traditionally view behaviors. So a great question and who can’t relate to that because things happen, especially when you add multiples and there’s not just one child, but another one, it’s sibling rivalry is it’s so expected and it’s really hard to as well. So the Mindshift would be, so you see child number you’re with a baby maybe nursing or just taking care of a younger, your youngest, and then you see child number two, bugging child number three. And in your mind you could think, oh my gosh, there they go again.
I’m just going to ignore this because he’s trying to get my attention. Or you can say his little body. Is starting to feel antsy. I see the biomarkers. He’s starting to move his eyes. Don’t look soft his body, it looks tense. He’s darting around the room, looking at me and then looking away from me. I think he starting to get into a stressful.
What can I do with right now? What you can do in that moment is you don’t change what you’re doing. The baby needs you of course can be two places at once by letting the child by witnessing what the, what oh, sweetheart. Here I am nursing the baby again. And I see that you’re trying to sit on sister’s lap and she does.
I want to. All right, buddy. Hey could you maybe go bring your coloring book and sit by me. I’d love to be close to you. That just didn’t, I’m just, but what I’m saying is you can witness. What’s motivated, you can guess at what’s motivating a child and we can choose to see it, not as a misbehavior, but as a stress behavior and sibling rivalry, especially after you get a new baby in the house, or if you’ve got multiple children.
Is very common. And of course we set family values and rules about how it’s, what is allowed between siblings. And what’s not part of our, how our family does things and what’s behaviors are allowed or not allowed, but you can set nice, beautiful boundaries and be empathic for the underlying motivation at the same time.
[00:25:34] Hunter: I love that it’s that whole, that, what you’re saying is like this child is having a moment of I need to be seen and heard I’m feeling, like the needs are like, see me, hear me. And you’re saying, yes, stay there, nurse the baby or whatever it is. And you can see and hear the other child.
And that it’s name it to tame it. We’re acknowledging what’s the reality right now. So rather than ignoring we’re acknowledging, oh my goodness. I’m here with the baby. Oh my goodness. You’re over there. You look like you got ants in your pants, buddy. And we can start to just, and all of this, like always comes back to that, like ability to like, be aware, to be alert, to be able to be present. It’s interesting.
[00:26:24] Mona Delahooke: Yes, exactly. And since Lisa I’ll share with you, her application to that what’s happening when that little guys darting over, looking at you and starting to bug their sister, his sister or their sister. That the, his brain is predicting that you are not available.
So the brain is constantly predicting based on current information and past experiences. And this is beyond not consciously. This is happening lightning seconds. So actually that brains prediction is causing his body to move it’s causing the body to have this basic negative affect or feeling and the movement.
Is there to help him feel better. So you’re absolutely right. If we can witness it with this deeper understanding of, oh, this is interesting, this is what’s going on and throw away our notions of negative attention and you need to clamp down harder and you’re not being hard enough on your children. All of these things are still being told to parents by meaning family members or pediatricians.
Like I see it all the time and my.
[00:27:44] Hunter: So dear listener, watch out for the advice to ignore your kid. I would of course I, I know, but I just want to say out loud that of course includes timeout kind of thing. This is, I know this is an effective, but maybe you could tell us why this is an effective from that body brain based position
[00:28:09] Mona Delahooke: from a body brain-based position.
Timeouts are generally given to children with the most egregious behaviors agregious meaning activated, and that would be those red pathway behaviors that I call them fight or flight behaviors are indication. That the child needs a deposit and not a withdrawal. The worst withdrawal you can do to a human is take away you is take away your attention.
And so actually, if you give a child a timeout, when they are in that state, their bodies are going to feel. And it actually might begin to teach them. And let me just say, first of all, no blame, no shame. I doled out timeouts when my children were young, because I was trained that they were the best thing ever.
So no blame, no shame. Okay. This is we’ll have to just embrace ourselves, but let us, let me say from a neuro developmental perspective, if you give a child a time out when they’re highly active, They’re biomarkers are going to get more agitated and they may learn that they have to stuff their feelings or pretend to be okay when they’re actually not okay inside in order to get our attention again.
And we really want to raise children who don’t have to stuff their feelings and who can talk to us and be vulnerable with us. So that is, I’d say that is when a timeout is not a good idea. Let me just distinguish if a child has done something that you feel they should think about, if again, if it was a motivated behavior, if maybe they lied or hurt someone’s feelings, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with saying sweetheart.
Maybe be a good idea for you to go think about that for a little while. Maybe you want to take a walk or just to be with yourself. So I think that’s a, that might not be a timeout, but I really think that there are. It’s okay to let children be with themselves and think about stuff, but that’s completely different than giving them a time out for stress behavior.
Does that make sense?
[00:30:24] Hunter: That makes a lot of sense. I really appreciate that that delineation. And you talk about that this is about in your book, like how this is about being aware of like individual differences with children. It’s not about there’s a strategy that we follow. All the time like this like consistent quote unquote parenting strategy, but you’re talking about awareness bringing like really mindfulness, right?
This, a mindset of kindness and curiosity to to what’s really happening. This is interesting. So you raised kids like, as you’re learning all this, as you’re doing all this clinical practice, did this, how did this cha like change the way you were parenting your own kids?
[00:31:09] Mona Delahooke: Oh, my goodness, like night and day, I had a well-meaning pediatrician, scared the daylights out of me.
One of my children and she’s, I think she has this diagnosis, the DSM is this Bible of psychiatry. And of course I knew exactly what she was saying. It’s like in that model, it’s oh, your child may have. I panicked and it was horrible. And the stress that you go through as a parent when you hear something from a professional about your child is so enormous.
I’ll never forget. I’ll just tell you how to, I’ll never forget. I was sitting in a study session at a colleague’s house and we were talking about truly the difference between top-down and body up behaviors and. It flashed in my head that this was my daughter, everything that I was worried about that I told her pediatrician about who gave her a label was not a psychiatric problem.
It was her body. Reaction to the world. Her detection of safety and threat in the world was different than mine. She was highly wired to detect things that I couldn’t even hear or feel and are never just having tears running down my face. That was a seminal moment when I realized, oh my goodness, this is going to help my mothering, and this is going to help my patients.
And that was over two decades.
[00:32:49] Hunter: Wow. That’s cool. So what changed? What did you do differently?
[00:32:53] Mona Delahooke: I stopped giving timeouts. I think the internal change, the context, the story I told myself change. Yeah, before, I’d be like, when my children were doing something, first thing I think is, can the neighbors hear the screaming?
Are they going to think, cause one of mine was a streaker I’m like, oh my gosh, what are the neighbors going to think? And are we, am I doing the right thing? Are my children polite and respectful? I was so concerned about am I doing this right? And then it, what shifted was my lens.
Then for example when one of my children refuse to go to Disneyland, I was like, oh, this isn’t just someone who’s spoiled and doesn’t want to go to Disneyland. There’s a real reason here. It is completely overwhelming her nervous system. And so it led me to more compassion naturally. And years after that, I met someone who.
Like one of, one of my heroes, Kristin Neff. And I went to long retreats with her and near the big Sur and the California coast and realized how beautifully self-compassion fits, because it allows us to see our children through a new lens. The science helps me know the mechanics behind what’s going on, but the end result is.
More grounded relationships for life. And I am, I might teach my children or my greatest teachers, and I’m so grateful to be, to have the relationships that I have with my children now because of the lens shift, I think of less worry, less freaking out, less blame and not thinking that it was my discipline or not being consistent enough.
It wasn’t that.
[00:34:52] Hunter: It was their body. It was their needs, their
[00:34:57] Mona Delahooke: individual differences. That’s right. Every one of our children has these unique differences. And this is oh my gosh. It’s the concept of interoception that I talk about in the book is how our bodies are constantly sending feedback to our brain about what we’re experiencing, like 24 7.
Huge. That’s going to help us help parents. If they have confusing behaviors in their children. This idea of interoception of this body of feedback is going to break things open. I hope if I have anything to do with it.
[00:35:37] Hunter: Interoception is this, as far as I know is the sense of how you’re sensing the inside of your body, which is interesting, right?
Because most of our senses are trained to the outside of our body, for survival. So we don’t have a lot of like for instance, I really can’t feel my kidneys, whatever. But but we can sense inside our body. We can send this. Tight, maybe in our shoulders or jaw, you can sense muscles tightening and blood flow and things like that, but it’s not something that we are often feeling. And so I know from a mindfulness perspective that this sense of interoception and mindfulness really builds the sense of being able to.
Have a greater sense of your body and what’s happening with the information your body’s giving you, how for the parent who’s listening, maybe this is the first time they’ve listened to a podcast on parenting. They’re like, but Mona, what the heck are you talking about? How is this going to help me bear it?
My kids. How would you answer that question?
[00:36:36] Mona Delahooke: Yeah. Okay. Thank you for bringing it to the practical because that’s what matters. What, okay. The. W the awareness of our body sensations is also is actually called interoceptive awareness. Interception is largely subconscious. So like you said, you don’t feel your liver and your kidneys and your stomach.
If all of those things, we don’t actually feel bad. Thank goodness. That would be really freaky. But what we can feel is things like tummy, clenching heart rate beating. Sweaty palms or basic feelings. Like I feel yucky inside right now, mommy, or, I feel good or bad. Those are called basic affects or feelings, basic feelings inside of our.
What research is showing, what neuroscience is showing is that these basic feelings are actually the foundation for eventually understanding emotional literacy. Labeling your feelings appears to start with this awareness of your body. And I know some adults. And many children who can’t label a feeling and there’s, so much compassion for that.
But in the later parts of the book, I talk to parents about how we can start to the best thing we can do to help our children eventually develop emotional literacy. That is the ability to talk about what their what’s going on in terms of their feelings and their states, rather than acting it out is to slow down with.
Is to notice ourselves is to help them notice their basic feelings. And it can be as simple as you’re driving in the car and a siren goes off and one of your children gets scared and closed and covers their ears. And you can say, oh my goodness, where did you feel that in your body?
And it’s if that’s the start, that’s the start is this awareness that we can have these sensations and make sense of them one day, it will help us organize our emotional life.
[00:39:08] Hunter: Yes. Yes. Oh God. We could just slide, I guess our time, but I’m like, yeah, there’s so much from there, right? As we. As we do that.
And we feel these things. And then we become, we even raised a generation who aren’t afraid of feeling these sensations in our bodies. Whereas like the past generations, we are just, we generally push it down or avoid her, any discomfort in the body. We run away from mentally and physically.
And so then we don’t have this awareness and we don’t have an ability to tolerate discomfort and the. That’s the ability to tolerate discomfort and to understand that this is a sensation in my body and it’s not I’m okay. It’s just a sensation in my body is enormously freeing and helpful in life. It’s
[00:39:56] Mona Delahooke: enormously freeing and you would not believe the research that’s coming out that I talk about in brain body parenting is that they are discovering that children and adults with.
Awareness of their sensations are more self, have better levels of self-regulation meaning I can control my emotions and behaviors. I am more, I’m more in touch with myself. I’m healthier. So everything we know about mindfulness, all of those thousands of studies about the health benefits of mindful.
Apply. And we can even take it further to this gentle awareness of our bodies and really move, help our children understand that when they have a behavior there’s likely a sensation or emotion or sensation or feeling attached to that, that one day, they might be able to talk about as an emotion. But if we ignore it or seclude them, when they are feeling that way, it gives them the message that.
Those aren’t as important as compliance. And so that’s my heart’s desire is that parents will understand the beauty of the science coming out in our brain and our body and the wisdom of compassionate awareness.
[00:41:19] Hunter: Yay. Oh my goodness. There’s some, I love this. I love talking to you so much about this mud. I’m sure we could
spout off for three hours about this. It’s an amazing,
Mona’s book is again, brain, body parenting, how to stop managing behavior and start raising joyful resilient kids. You can find it anywhere. Books are sold. I want to ask you for, if people want to reach out to you, where can they find you? Oh,
[00:41:51] Mona Delahooke: My website is MonaDelahooke.com
[00:41:54] Hunter: and he I imagined captain hook spells. Oh yeah.
[00:42:00] Mona Delahooke: Not like Captain Hook Delahooke with an E. And @drmonadelahooke on Facebook and Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn. Yeah, Mona Delahooke, PhD or Dr Mona Delahooke so I’m on social too. And I love connecting with parents and I love talking to people like you truly, you’re helping parents integrate the mind and the body.
It’s beautiful. So
[00:42:32] Hunter: thank you. Thank you. I just, I also want to say the ask, like one for, is there anything that. We miss for the parent, who’s saying, oh my goodness. I was like, I was top down. I was ignoring these quote unquote bad behaviors and you’re opening my eyes. I’m starting to see this the, that, oh my God.
A lot of these behaviors I thought were bad or maybe these are maybe actually. Body motivated behaviors. What, how do they start to integrate this into their lives and into their parenting? Oh,
[00:43:13] Mona Delahooke: I’m so glad you I’m so glad you asked me that. And I, this is very important because I know the feeling of learning information and thinking, oh my gosh, I did it right.
Did I, I did something wrong. Did I harm my children? So I would like to say to any parents who might be hearing this thing, oh no, that didn’t really do that. Or have I harmed them? Please know the answer to that is no, you did the best you could with the information you had and children are resilient.
The most powerful news from neuroscience is that our brains are always updating their predictions. So as parents, there’s, the window never closes to help our child’s brain predict safety, predict different things from the world and from us. And we’re wired that way. We’re not wired to be perfect.
Parents. Humanity would have not survived if that was the case. So I’d say the most important message is one of self-compassion gentleness on yourself and realizing that. It’s not a matter of getting it right, or getting it wrong. It’s an ongoing process. Hope never leaves. And your children know you love him.
So I hope people leave this listening to this with hope and warmth and gentleness to yourself and not.
[00:44:45] Hunter: Yes. Amen. Yes we are going to be imperfect no matter what our thoughts and strategies, so it’s okay. It’s okay. If you’re making, I love that message. I really appreciate that.
Mona. Thank you so much. I really appreciate, I think it’s wonderful that you took the time to write. The way, the books that you’ve written and to help start to shift this in in the psychological community, start to shift us into being in our bodies. I feel really grateful for the work that you’ve done, and I’m really grateful.
You took the time to come and join us here on the podcast. So thank you.
[00:45:28] Mona Delahooke: Thank you so much for having me. It was really
[00:45:31] Hunter: wonderful to talk to.