Birth to age five is when children form 90% of their brain and the foundation of emotional intelligence they get in those years can have an outsized impact on the rest of their development. In this episode, I talk to Alyssa Campbell, founder of Seed & Sew about young children and how to support their growth as grounded humans.
Alyssa Blask Campbell is the founder and CEO of Seed & Sew, an organization committed to giving parents, teachers and caregivers the tools to raise emotionally intelligent humans. An emotional development expert with a master’s degree in early education, Alyssa co-created the Collaborative Emotion Processing (CEP) method with Lauren Stauble and researched it across the United States. She hosts the Voices of Your Village podcast.
Hunter is the creator of the Mindful Parenting course, host of the Mindful Mama podcast and author of the bestselling book Raising Good Humans: A Mindful Guide to Breaking the Cycle of Reactive Parenting and Raising Kind, Confident Kids. She helps parents bring more calm and peace into their daily lives. Hunter has over twenty years of experience in meditation practices and has taught mindfulness to thousands worldwide. She is the mother of two active daughters, who challenge her everyday to hone her craft!
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*This is an auto-generated transcript*
[00:00:00] Hunter: I love what you’re doing with seed and so I love the, all of these tools for emotional development and helping people understand kids emotional development more logically. I feel like we have, I feel like we’re like almost like handicapped in our culture by this, like these ideas that we have that like kids have a lot more emotional control.
Than they actually do have. And so we don’t realize that I was just saying kids are just naturally they’re messy, they’re aggressive, they’re like wild and crazy. They’re, they can’t control their feelings. Like they, they don’t, they can’t control their actions that well, they can’t control their feelings that well.
They go from like babies where, Oh, we have to do everything to them and then suddenly they’re toddlers and we’re like, You should be able to get a together kid. What’s wrong with you, ? Is that, do you see that as like the overarching idea that we have, like at least in the US as far as our, the way we get kids?
[00:01:10] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Totally. Yeah. You know what was interesting? So I co-created this collaborative emotion processing method, researched it with a colleague, and we have a book coming out on it next year. And it, when we were doing the research, one of the things that was so interesting was that, Approach to infants and toddlers was almost like very low expectations.
Yeah. We don’t expect them to have a lot of these skills and almost to the point where like we should expect a little more. They do understand more than we give them credit for and they can build more skills earlier than we often give them credit for, but then they hit a certain agent. For a lot of people we’ve noticed it’s about.
Where we want them to have these skills now, and we didn’t teach them to them , but we just expect that by the time you’re three now, you’ll have all of these social skills and empathy skills and regulation skills and all that jazz that we may not have laid the foundation for them to have. But almost like too high of expectations for three year olds, four year olds, five year old, six year olds, beyond and too low earlier.
And you’re saying, We expect kids to have like certain level of self control often that they don’t have. And it’s so interesting because when we pause and think and I’ll ask parents like, what happens for you when you’re angry? What? How do you express when you’re angry so that we’re not just telling kids what they can’t do, but that we start to.
Talk about what they can do and model that and et cetera. And how many of us aren’t doing this in our everyday life, but then expected of a kid. Yes. ?
[00:02:45] Hunter: Yes. Exactamundo. . Yeah. No kidding. Yeah. I know we can’t, Yeah, we almost it’s so crazy. Like we’re like you, you will control your feelings so that I feel better, and I don’t lose in my cool, such a backwards way of doing it because we’re the ones with the fully developed prefrontal cortex, which is like the inhibitory part of our brain, right? Like they have like much less a chance. And we, but that is the kind of, we don’t realize it, but that is the message that we send.
[00:03:22] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah, so often. Yeah, and we say a lot at seed that it’s not a child’s job to get calm For us, it’s our job to get calm for them, and if we feel like we don’t have the tools to get calm for them in the moment, we definitely can’t expect them to get calm for us. .
[00:03:38] Hunter: Yeah Exactly. I’m so with you on all of that.
So we’re here, we are here to talk about like zero to five little kids. Some of the things we should expect developmentally from little kids, some of the ways we can support, little kids. I’ll just call them little kids cause. Been funner than saying zero to five . But I’m curious about you.
What, So you, now, you have a 14 month old, but you’ve been studying this and for years, what made you so you personally so fascinated in little kids? Were you like, I’m gonna make, can I make an armchair guess? Yeah, go ahead. Yeah. Yeah. This will be fun. Okay, , if I had to tell the story about what it was, I would maybe think maybe like you were like an oldest child who had to like maybe take care of younger children in a family situation and got really fascinated by it.
I’m totally way off telling Hunter.
[00:04:38] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: This is so fun. I love this. No, keep it going.
[00:04:45] Hunter: Maybe I, my guess is like you are not an only child
[00:04:49] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: anyway. I am not an only child. Okay. I got one thing. Yeah. Do you wanna keep guessing cuz I’m loving this .
[00:04:55] Hunter: No. Tell me the truth. . Okay. For,
[00:04:59] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: I dig myself in too far. I am one of five, but I’m number four of five. So I have three older brothers, one younger brother I grew up.
The village, Like it truly, like in the village, grew up small. The village in York, Oh no. Like the village in the sense of it takes a village to raise kids and everyone now we’re like, Okay, but where’s that village? I really grew up in the village in that sense. It was a small farm town in western New York and a low income town and everybody really pitched.
To do life, and I got my corn from Alley Ty’s farm down the road, like I started watching people’s kids. My mom ran a home daycare that was like unlicensed, unregulated, basically to be a stay-at-home mom. She watched other people’s kids and so as long as I can remember, there were a million kids around and I would come home from school to kids and I remember being like probably fourth grade and came home.
On a half day of school, and my mom had kids there that she was watching and there was this baby, and I picked him up and was talking to him, like holding him above my head. And he, I didn’t know, he’d just had a bottle spit up into my mouth. Yeah. But this is just and I was in like fourth grade, and these are just, it’s just been my life. Like I’ve been around kids my whole life. I, there’s not a picture of me as a child above the age of three where I’m not. Chi another child around. To the point where I’m like, maybe somebody should have been like, you’re five. And that’s a newborn and I’m nervous
[00:06:41] Hunter: yeah, no, it’s, you’re like, now that I know what I know about five year olds, ,
[00:06:45] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Should I be carrying that newborn? Yeah. I, it’s just truly been always a part of my life, being a, being in a big family, but more. Being in a community where everyone really pitched in. I was 12 when I started babysitting and like by 16 was like driving three kids in my car and like always had a car seat that was in my car.
And yeah, it’s just really been in my life always and went to college and got a nanny job while I was at college. I can’t, just the idea of not being around young kids doesn’t make sense.
[00:07:22] Hunter: That’s amazing. Yeah. It’s almost sounds like what you’re describing is almost like, I was talking to Michaeline Dule about the, I think it’s the Harari people and their, like a Hunter Gather tribe and I forget what part of.
The continent of Africa was, but yeah, like little kid, Like small kids are carrying babies and everybody’s pitching in, And that is, and it’s so interesting to think about because we have this idea of. Like that we should be able to do everything on our own and all this thing.
And that is not how humans evolve to be. We are, we’re born so premature compared to every other animal species. We’re born so helpless. Like the only possible way it was possible for us to raise these helpless children that needed so many hours and years of care was if there were a.
People around helping do it right and so no wonder we feel like we’re failing when we’re all by ourselves.
[00:08:27] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. We’re not meant to do all of this. By ourselves or even like most of it . Yeah. And yeah, no I, and I, so I truly just was raised in that village since and have been around kids forever and then also had my own journey with emotional development specifically, and as my journey.
With emotional development was unfolding. I experienced some trauma as a teen and then navigating that aftermath and what did that look like for years to come and how did it show up in my life and what was the difference between that and other hard experiences that I’d had. And as I started to uncover all that and late teens, early twenties in therapy realized like so much of what I was doing.
Part of the foundations in early childhood that we were, I was teaching at the time in early childhood and my master’s is in early ed and realized like, Oh, these are all things that I’m now doing with kids that I didn’t get as a kid growing up. That there were parts of this. We’ve evolved so much in our research around emotional development has changed vastly in the last 20 to 30 years.
We. Yeah, we know so much more in the same way that like the car seat that I was in as a child is not the car seat that my child is now in 30 some years later. That has evolved, thank goodness, because I don’t know if you have any childhood pictures, but it’s like basically a bucket with a strap and Right.
Like it is a little rough looking. I’m glad I made it. But that has evolved and so should our emotional development, so should the way that we are looking at how kids learn and grow and develop, and our research has evolved and so now our practices are evolving. All that to say that like my parents did the best they could with what they have.
Yes. And now I have a set of. Through my education that I was learning and I was like, Oh, this is different than what I grew up with. And just started to make that connection.
[00:10:36] Hunter: So what did you see, like when you were doing this research and stuff that you didn’t get as a kid and this is of course not to knock your parents cuz we don’t, they were in a different time and they don’t know these things and they were carrying on what people had done before.
So what, but what did you not get as a kid that you discovered that kids. .
[00:10:57] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. So I have incredible parents As, and they’re so far from perfect, right? All of us as humans. And. I’m super grateful for them as like a caveat And yes, I didn’t grow up in what we would call a secure attachment relationship.
I grew up in a household where there were terms like dramatic or emotional where applied when I was having a hard emotion and I was allowed to have it, but I was expected to have it like in my room and then I could come. And we could talk
[00:11:34] Hunter: about what we would do next. Ditto too. Too sensitive. Too sensitive.
[00:11:40] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: That was me. Yep. Yep. Exactly. Exactly. And so I was allowed to have them. It just wasn’t something they were going to be privy to or around. They were ready to talk about the problem solving, the conflict resolution part when I was ready for that, and I could take my time having a hard emotion. I just was gonna do it in my bedroom.
Or I was gonna be removed to the car if we were at like a public thing or et cetera. And there was no discussion around coping for processing experiences because they weren’t a part of the. Emotional expression. They were there for the problem solving. The conflict resolution I developed, so when we’re part of our method involves the phases of emotion processing, and there are five of them.
And the very last one is problem solving, our conflict resolution. And the first four are about connecting with the child and helping them feel safe and seen, which then allows their nervous system to calm so that. Access problem solving, conflict res empathy, et cetera. And in those first four phases, my parents, number one was allow, they would allow me to have it.
So they did that one. Number two is the recognition of the perceived emotion. So this would be like acknowledging. The emotion that they’re having or that they, we think that they’re having like, Oh, you were working so hard on that and it crashed. It’s so frustrating. Just validating and connecting over that experience and what they’re experiencing.
So I didn’t necessarily have that part. And then security in the feelings, recognizing that it’s okay and safe to feel this because it won’t last. that all feelings are temporary. And this is where we see anxiety. When we don’t have security in our feelings, we are often trying to run or to-do, list our way out of it or make it go away as fast as possible.
And then it really is just like quicksand where you just get to deeper and deeper, digs a hole there. And then the fourth phase is coping, and there are two different types of coping. We have coping mechanisms and coping strategies. And coping mechanisms are what we will automatically develop and turn to, to make it stop as fast as possible.
It’s what our body’s designed to do to make it stop, to have temporary relief, often turning to something that’s gonna elicit dopamine, that reward center of our. Chocolate. So now it might Chocolate. Yeah. Chocolate’s a great one. Chocolate food in general, but chocolate. A decent amount of dopamine. So if you’re looking for a dopamine hit, it’s a great turn.
Screens distraction, ignoring it, like just trying to distract yourself and move on. My biggest dopamine hitter is shopping. I can fill a cart, like it’s nobody’s business. I don’t even have to check out. I can just fill that cart, like there’s no tomorrow . For some folks it could be substance abuse or use.
Anyway, so as a kid it’s often distractions. Our biggest one that we turn to or screens where we will try and just distract them out of it or use a screen to get that to dopamine, and then coping strategies. Are gonna produce serotonin or oxytocin. So oxytocin being that like, love, feel good hormone, serotonin, calming the nervous system.
And these, it, you’ll often feel that emotion or you’ll have the experience, the nervous system experience for a little bit longer. Dopamine has have. Faster reaction. So like you can numb it pretty quickly with dopamine or the coping mechanism versus the coping strategy might take a minute longer.
You might be in that feeling and then you start to feel some relief. So this could be taking deep breaths, it can be moving your body with young kids. It can be like doing big jumps or jumping into a pillow pile. Or I’ll do like a race with kids. Oh, I’m not ready to figure this out yet. Let’s see how many frog jumps it takes us to get to the bathroom door and back.
I bet we can do it in 10. What do you think? And then we’re gonna move our bodies and move that cortisol adrenaline. And then once we’re calm and then we move on to that, like problem solving, conflict resolution, et cetera. And the other form of moving your body would be vestibular input, which is that like swinging, going upside down, moving the point of your head.
So big body moving the point of your head. Or like taking deep breaths, having some sensory deprivation or down regulation. Removing
[00:16:11] Hunter: off my, I never Oh, nice. I always touching my toes. It’s never thought of it as like a vestibular thing, but I always think of it in the, I guess the yoga terms of like a folding forward as like a calming method.
Like it’s and I just, to me it feels like a release, stuff falling outta my head. .
[00:16:31] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. No, I love that into the ground. That’s a great one. That’s a great one. Yeah. And so as a kid, I wasn’t giving coping strategies. I wasn’t told Here are things you can do to calm your nervous system so that we can talk about problem solving.
It was just like, Yeah, go. And when you’re ready, here’s where I’ll be. I
[00:16:50] Hunter: don’t think any of us were like, It’s generationally, like none of us were. And we still have some major people, like on TV who are saying, Kid, go by yourself and just calm down. Like without any strategies. It’s like it’s frustrating to see.
[00:17:09] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: So frustrating and yeah, I guess like it is triggering for me cause I’m like, No, I know what that looks like down the road. And you have to build all these tools as an adult and you end up just numbing through emotions in your teens, Alyssa. And so as I was doing that work on myself and realizing those things, I was like, Oh, like this is what that is.
This is how this plays out down the road. These are different ways it shows up. And just talking to a friend the other day was saying that I, so often when I like see adults or older kids, teens, et cetera, and adolescents, I can see them as a two year old. Like I know, I’m like, Oh, I know what that looks like, that habit or that pattern.
I know how that shows up in infancy and toddlerhood and preschool. And it, it’s so interesting like now seeing like even my own habits, I’m like, Yep. And I know what that. When they are young. I was just consulting with the teacher the other day who’s been in the field for 30 years in early childhood, and she was asking about this we have a professional development program for teachers.
We support teachers with this work. And she was asking about a kid in her class. She was like, I just never seen this profile before. This is so new. And her the three or four right now. And I was like, Is this how it showed up in infancy and in toddlerhood, et cetera? Did you see these behaviors?
And she was like, Now on the head, It’s so clear to me of Oh, that, because it’s the same route. They just show up in different ways down the. When you don’t have these tools,
[00:18:39] Hunter: it’s so fascinating and I’m sure you can see, as I can see, like as you look into I look into a lot of the problems in the world, right?
And I look at all the challenges. I look at the leaders who have. Issues and all of these things, and I think of all of these challenges with like aggressive responses and anger and all of these things. And I think these are all people who just don’t know how to process their feelings. Like they weren’t taught how to process a feeling like frustration or anger and it’s this acting out on this thing.
It’s really, I feel like the lack of being able to process and understand and take care of our feelings is basically at the root of Almost everything. . I look at that, I’m like, there’s oh, and or conflict resolution too. But anyway, but pro being able to process feelings generally is at the root of everything.
I’m sure you see totally as you look
[00:19:36] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: into world all the time. It’s like a joke in my household where like anytime something happens, I’m like, Oh, I wish I had them as a toddler. Like I wish ,
[00:19:43] Hunter: I wish I could have worked with her. And this is important, like you’re talking about toddlers. This is important because the ages zero to five are really important for kids, right?
Like this. Tell us about, cuz. And I feel a little funny about bringing this up because sometimes I felt or especially as a parent, as an, especially when I was an unskillful parent of a zero to three year old, I felt Oh my God, it’s so much pressure to put on people who are brand new to this job.
Your life has been turned upside down. You’re like healing physically. Everything’s different. The world is upside down, and you have the responsibility. Somebody’s future like mental health in your hands and it’s oh my God. It’s so much pressure, but at the same time, So we should understand, as we go into this conversation, so for you dear listener, parent of a small child that.
We’re gonna talk about that, how this is an important time, and I want you to know that the brain is plastic and kids grow and change and learn all the time. Adults grow and change and learn. Nothing is set in stone. So that’s my caveat. To this conversation because we get so paralyzed by anxiety to be doing it right, that it leads us to be unskillful because we’re so like anxious about things, but with that said, tell us about how important you’re to
[00:21:12] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. So yeah, it’s wicked important and
[00:21:17] Hunter: I’ve never, Oh, I love wait. I love that. I heard
[00:21:21] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: it come outta my mouth too. No,
[00:21:22] Hunter: it’s so great because I grew up in Rhode Island and now I live in Delaware and no one says anything is wicked anything anymore, and they all look at me.
If I ask for a bubbler, no one knows what I’m talking about. And to say something is wicked important. I’m just like, You’ve made my day, Alyssa. You have no idea.
[00:21:43] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Hunter. I’m glad I could give you that gift. I heard it come outta my mouth and I was like, Oh, that’s gonna make me like in a certain region. I do live in Vermont.
It is wied important. And I’ve never left a single day as a parent, as a teacher, as a human with a master’s in this and who’s done research in it and been in it for so long. I’ve never left a day and been like, I was perfect today, . It’s not real and it’s not the goal. And as long as that is our goal, we are gonna feel like we’re failing each day.
So to start there that there’s is no perfection, No. It doesn’t have to be like, it’s not Oh, that is really the goal. We’re just not reaching it. No, it truly doesn’t have to be the goal. It’s not my goal for the days. In fact, if I was quote perfect each day, for me, perfection would look. I am feeling triggered by things.
I’m feeling hard feelings, and I’m acknowledging them, and I’m tapping into tools to show my child that it’s not their job to get calm for me. That I will get calm and be a leader here, and that I do have feelings and I experience feelings, and I lose my cool sometimes, and I’m gonna own that responsibility.
So that then I can show up for them. It doesn’t mean that they do something super annoying or triggering and I’m just like, Oh yeah, I don’t have a feeling about that . Yeah. So just as a starter for folks tuning in, I think there’s this idea in the Parenting world now that like we’re just supposed to be regulated all the time and we aren’t.
No human is. It’s going to ebb and flow and you’re not failing if you’re experiencing feelings or reactions to any human around you or anything around you, including your child. To that little disclaimer, it is important because we form 90% of the brain in the first five years, 80% of that in the first three.
And what we mean by that is that, you know how when like a baby comes. A year later, if you look in like a time hop photos of that child a year ago, or you go from like one to two, you’re like, wow. It’s a vastly different child with hugely different skill sets, like , when this child was born, they could do almost nothing.
They couldn’t move their body. They, if they were left by themselves, they. And then by one, they for the most part, can move around a little bit. They can eat some food. They’re starting to talk and communicate in different ways and then we just continue to see that progression of like skills, if I think of the things that.
I gained in the last year, the new skills that I built. It’s not even close to the new skills that my child built in the last year. Yeah. In terms of how different our skill set is a year later. So the brain is learning so much, it’s. Taking in this whole world and learning all these different skills for how to move their bodies, how to function in the world, how to stay alive in the world how to communicate, how to eat, what it looks like to, yeah, move, like basic functions are happening and then we, when we’re looking.
Sending a kid off to kindergarten. If your kid goes to school at five, We’re saying a lot of those foundations for existing in the world have been formed, and now we’re gonna work on fine tuning those systems and adding content and things like. Your ABCs or your name or your colors or shapes or whatever.
It’s why, like I don’t care at all if a child knows those things in these early years because they can absorb any content that comes their way if they have all these other foundational skills for how to move through the world first. And so what we are looking at when we’re looking at that 90. I wanna help make sure that their motor development is going to serve them, That they can move their bodies in a way that is helpful for their nervous system and that will be helpful for them to navigate the world.
I wanna make sure that their language and communication skills are going to serve them so that they know how to. Ask for what they need, that they know how to enter into a social group, that they know how to advocate for themselves in different scenarios. I am looking at their nervous system regulation as my most important probably of what is happening in my body.
You were talking about adults not having these tools for emotion processing, and I would even. One step back and say that so many adults don’t have tools to recognize what’s happening in their body, that until they’re exploding, then looking back on, right? Reflective practice is a great tool and what we wanna start to build is what is happening in my body when it’s happening or when it’s building, or I just felt that rush of cortisol or adrenaline.
Where do I feel it in my body? Yes. How does that show up and in when we’re working with kids? Why have kids who can start to notice this when we’re consistently working with them in toddlerhood, where they can squeeze their fists and let them go, because we’ve acknowledged like, Oh, I see that you’re frustrated.
Your hands are so tight, and your shoulders are up to your ears, and your voice is getting so loud. Gosh, you sound frustrated. To squeeze my fists with you and let them go and bring my shoulders up to my ears and let them. And helping them build that body awareness of what’s happening in my body.
And then the tools for how do I regulate it, how do I calm it? When we are sending kids into kindergarten, they can have a lot of tools for self-control, but the foundations for self-control are self regulation and self-awareness. You can’t regulate what you’re not aware of and you can’t be in control of a body that’s dysregulated.
And so what we’re focused on with emotion processing and emotional regulation is first gonna start with that nervous system regulation, , and it really just begins. So when parents are tuning in, if they’re like, Where do I start? Start by acknowledging what happening in their bodies, whether they are an infant, a toddler, a three year old, a 13 year old, showing.
What’s happening in their bodies starts by us acknowledging that and helping them start to tune in to Oh, in the same way that if we said, You have butterflies in your stomach. We know, Oh, that feeling and I’m feeling nervous or excited, starting to help them build language around what that looks like for different emotions.
What does it feel like in your body when you feel frustrated or when you feel embarrassed or when you feel sad or disappointed or excited or happy or left out? How does that feel in your body? And starting to help them tune into that. That’s what I’m looking at in that 90% early years component.
[00:29:16] Hunter: Yeah. Cuz if we can do that, we can have the, we can, I know. It’s really is the foundation of everything and it’s so mind boggling to think about this. It was something that we were completely blocked from talking about for how I, at least in the Western culture that, led to the United States millennia, I’m sure And and it’s so essential.
It’s interesting. It’s I feel like this our sort of emphasis on like our mind states and. Our, the stories that are in our head and cognition has led to this kind of blocking of this understanding of being in our body, that we are an embodied people, and that blocking has led to just so many problems and all of these things that we have to relearn as adults.
That’s what we work on all the time in Mindful. Parenting is like Being aware of the sensations in our body, being aware of our feelings, acknowledging our feelings, right? Doing all of these things so that if we can do it in ourselves as parents, then we can also do it for our kids.
And that, that modeling of just, I’m feeling X right now. That’s, it’s it’s interesting as we talk about it, cuz it sounds to me at this point in my life, like so simple. But it’s something that just is. has not been embedded in the culture that we are. I guess you and I like and many people are working on bringing back into the culture, but is still not terribly mainstream yet.
It’s so fascinating. Yeah.
[00:31:08] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: And I think we bring a lot of stories and we see this a lot in work with parents around. If I’m helping them calm their body, am I telling them they need to stop expressing? Am I trying to make this emotion stop and not letting them feel. And I think there needs to be a conversation around the nervous system regulation versus emotional regulation, and that they’re different.
When we’re looking at those first four phases of emotion processing, we’re looking at nervous system regulation. You are going to still feel afterwards, so you’re gonna have the emotion if I’m feeling sad about something. Me building awareness. that like brain hijack where I don’t have access to my prefrontal cortex and I’m in that feelings part of my body and my brain, and regulating that so that I can regain access to my prefrontal cortex doesn’t take the sad away. . So after we calm our nervous system, after we calm our bodies, we’ll still experience the feeling. Where I think like a lot of folks, there’s like hangup around this of a am.
I like rushing the emotion away if I. Help them tune into their body and calm. If there’s this emphasis on like feeling calm or feeling safe, but also then afterwards recognizing that once they’re calm, our work isn’t done. Now they have access to their whole brain. Now they’re in a space to do the emotion processing work.
It’s not just the nervous system regulation, it’s then the emotion. Work around. All right, now you experienced this feeling. You experienced sad or you were experiencing disappointment or embarrassment and let’s dive into that now. Now we go into that part. Does that make sense?
[00:33:02] Hunter: I think that makes sense.
Yeah. It’s like you’re saying like let’s you know what the nervous system hijack leaves us know. Cognitive, no ability for like the upper brain, for the lack of a better word, to process everything. When we can, get out of nervous system hijack, then we’re able to then process with our cognitive brain with those things.
It’s interesting. I would love to have someone like Lisa Feldman Barrett in on this conversation right now to say, because she talks about that that, that graph with the different vectors of Inten, feeling intensely and positive and versus negative affect of the feelings and a lot of sensation versus slow down sensation.
So it’s interesting to think about that because like in a way, like the feelings are. , these terms, like these almost cognitive terms that we’re putting on, we’re going really deep into this is probably more than we need to go, but I think it’s interesting. It’s almost like these cognitive terms that we’re putting on these, the, these sensations.
Whereas you could just say, I have a really intense sensation and it’s negative feeling. Like it’s interesting. Yeah. It feels hard to consider that.
[00:34:24] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. Yeah, but I just think that that’s the biggest hangup that we see in this work and and that I notice when people are trying to implement it, that like my kids are fighting over something and I step in and try and help them.
I’m jumping to phase five problem solving. They’re not ready for it, right? Like they’re, everybody’s dysregulated. But we jump in and we’re like, Okay, like here, let’s talk about it. You can, How does this feel? You can have a turn first, and then you can go, and then they’re still yelling at each other and nobody likes that suggestion and whatever, and it’s this ongoing.
Yeah. Mess of, because nobody’s ready for that yet. And we jump to the emotion part of this, the emotional regulation, the trying to make the problem go away. And in actuality, I just wanna shift back to like back to the basics of. acknowledging what’s happening in their body. , what they’re feeling, supporting them with tools to calm their nervous system so that we can do that.
Yes. And at first, for kids, it’s frustrating cuz they’re like, No, solve my problem. This is, I’m annoyed by this thing. And we go back to, I would love to help you when we’re calm and ready and so I’m going to walk. How to get to that point when you’re ready and there’s no rush. You can be in it for as long as you need to, but we’re not talking about conflict resolution or problem solving until we’re there.
[00:35:48] Hunter: Yeah, I love that. I would love to help you when you’re calm and ready. That’s such a great phrase, dear listener, that you can grab right there from Alyssa. I love this. So in this age of zero to five, there’s so much, birth, we need. We obviously, we, this is an essential task of that age for us to help be teaching.
We have to practice it ourselves, right? This is cuz we’re gonna get dysregulated and then we have to help our kids regulate their nervous systems. We wanna acknowledge and allow all those things when we think about the, this age of zero to five. What are some of the things that, One of the things I think is interesting, like we look at, a lot of us traditionally look at behavior, We look at, bad behavior or misbehavior, but I, we know that behavior is like an expression of needs, right?
That kids are just trying to go about their lives, meeting their needs, and Yeah. And they’re like aggressive and messy and discombobulated. All of that stuff, right? But they’re just basically trying to meet their needs. So what are some of the the important needs that we need to consider that our kids may be having in these important ages of birth of five?
[00:37:05] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah, so first of all, I wanna note that we call that stress behavior misbehavior, et cetera, a bad behavior. It for me means the nervous system is stressed in some capacity.
[00:37:14] Hunter: No. I think that’s so important to think about because. People have asked what is what is a stress response?
What is a fight flight or free stress response behavior versus when my child is trying to like, Deliberately push a boundary and it’s a really interesting thing to consider. And most of the behaviors probably in zero to five are really just these that we see as like these bad behaviors are like these stress response, fight flight or freeze behaviors.
Although I can’t imagine like the moment right when you’re toddler like, you’ll, in
[00:37:52] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: a year you’ll, Oh, it already happens. He scares me in the face. Stare you in
[00:37:56] Hunter: my fork, me, See what happens. What will you do right then that’s pretty clearly okay, let me just see, do an experiment on the world and see what happens right here.
But totally, So I will
[00:38:07] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: say it’s definitely, you’re right, more common that we’re seeing stress behaviors across the board. Not even just year to five, but again, if we’re saying. S In order to deliberately do something, you have to be operating from a regulated state, which means you self-control requires a regulated body.
You’re aware, you’re regulated, you’re making a conscious choice. That is not very common. Yeah. But when that is coming up , because Yeah, we are going to have times where sure, they’re regulated in their, they might be asking for connect. in that sense where maybe they have nervous system regulation, but then they’re saying, I’m feeling disconnected from you and I wanna connect with you.
And they never say that this words aren’t coming up , they say that by going and like poking their sister. Yeah. They say that by poking their sister in the face or whatever. Dumping out all the things, which is currently in our household, everything is dumped. So it’ll happen in behavior.
Sometimes it’s connection and sometimes it is them saying, Will you hold that boundary? Which for us means they’re saying, Are you going to keep me safe? Is it your job to keep me safe? And when we set boundaries and they push them, that’s what they’re asking, right? Who actually has the control here?
Because if I have the control as a. Truly overwhelming. And I will feel overwhelmed by that even though I’m gonna push to see do I have it? And it is their job. It’s our job to set the boundary. It’s their job to push it, and it’s their job to push it When we’re sick, when we’re traveling, when grandma’s in town, when so and so’s when anything’s different, it’s their job to say, Is this still the rule?
Is this still the boundary? And. We, I think so often what we want is obedience or compliance cuz that’s convenient. We want to set a boundary and for kids to follow it. And I gotta tell you, I’ve never in my life set boundaries for kids and had them be like, Great. I can’t wait to follow it. That is not how it plays out.
Yeah, and it
[00:40:13] Hunter: doesn’t play out that way for adults most of the time. Neither. Like we don’t learn something once and we’re like, okay, got it. Like some things we do, but most things we need a lot of repetition. Just, I think it’s,
[00:40:25] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: remember we need to know it’s gonna be held. Like you think of the speed limit and like how many people are like, Okay, is this 30 miles an hour?
I will do 30 on the nose, That’s what I’m gonna do. Or I’m on the highway and it’s says 65. That’s what I’m gonna do. 65. If we knew, if you go over the speed limit, there’s radar, you know those signs that say radar enforced and we know that’s not real. If it was real and we knew like you’re gonna get a.
Sent to you. If you go over that speed limit, people would most likely obey it more frequently, but because it’s inconsistently enforced that every once in a while you might drive by a cop and you’re like, Oh, now here it comes, the ticket it, because you don’t know when it’s gonna happen. It’s worth taking the risk, it’s worth seeing.
Is this the time that I can get away? with so many boundaries. When we’re seeing inconsistency, it’s worth it for children to say, Is this the time where I’m gonna be able to do this other thing, where I’m gonna be able to get away with this? Or and not in a manipulative sense, but in a, I’m testing it, I’m learning.
It’s all trial and error for them to say What happens when I do this? It’s their first time in the world. . .
[00:41:40] Hunter: Yeah. Yeah. They’re new here. . Yeah. Yeah. So I love that. I love that explanation. But so about to go back and like connection clearly, safety, clearly. Some autonomy, some sense of choice over some things.
[00:41:58] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Yeah. And to see do I have choice here? Is, am I in control of this? Yeah. Yeah. And when we’re doing choice, we do choice theory. So we do two options, both of which this is the kicker for adults, both of which are fine for them to choose. So if I say, I’m gonna set a timer, and in five minutes we’re gonna leave the house, if you wanna put your shoes on by yourself, go ahead and put them on when the timer beeps.
If your shoes aren’t on, then I’ll put them on you. I’m not, when the timer beeps angry at them that I’m putting their shoes on, that like that was a fine choice for them to make. They get to make one of these two choices. Both are accept. and then when I’m putting their shoes on for them, it doesn’t mean it’s like a trip to the spa either.
They’re not like, Sure, put my shoes on me but I’m not mad at them for choosing this option that I gave them. .
[00:42:45] Hunter: That’s a beautiful point. Alyssa, we have so much we could talk about, we could talk about this endlessly, but I wanna respect your time . What did we ha we talked about, we talked about emotional processing, we talked about development, we talked about needs.
Is there anything we miss that you want the listener to to hold onto in this conversation
[00:43:10] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: That you’re right, I. I could literally talk about this forever. And I’m like, Yes, we’ve missed so much. But no, I think like largely when we were doing the night that we got our book deal, my co-author and I were texting and about like, all right, as we’re going into writing this manuscript, what is that art like at the cornerstone of it?
And when we were doing our research for the SEP method, The thing that was my favorite takeaway from it and the data that really like just warmed my heart, was that kids didn’t stop being kids. Kids had emotions, kid had kids, had emotional expressions, kids pushed boundaries. The adult experience of children is what shifted the adult experience of a child’s emotions or a child’s boundary pushing, et cetera, is what shifted.
And what I, And again, like back to the manuscript, that’s what it came back to is that what we want our impact to be around is the adult experience of children and their emotions and how they move through the world to shift away from things like they’re being manipulative or they’re intentionally doing these things to drive me bonkers into.
They want to feel connected and loved and worthy and seen, and they’re using all the tools in their toolbox at this moment to do yeah.
[00:44:39] Hunter: And it, it just takes the, It’s not personal , it’s not lone one’s trying, No child is trying to get you, They’re having a stress response. They’re using their tools.
They’re just really undeveloped, wacky beings. ,
[00:44:56] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: they’re learning how to connect. They’re learning. They’re learning. Yeah. It’s, they’re all, they’re learning and we’re learning with
[00:45:02] Hunter: them. Yes. Yeah. Thank you so much. It has been such a pleasure and a joy to talk to you. Where can people find out more about what you’re.
[00:45:13] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Thank you. Thank you for having me. I could get nerdy with you forever. This is so fun for me. Folks can check us out at seed and so seed and so.org, seed and s e w dot org or over on Instagram, seed dot and dot. So s e w yeah, those are
[00:45:35] Hunter: the two main. Yeah. Alyssa’s Instagram handle is full of good nutrients to take in if you wanna be on social media.
It’s a great one to follow, to take in some good inspiring stuff. Thank you so much, Alyssa. This has been really a pleasure. I really enjoyed it. I’m so glad that you are, you, your little village had you carrying babies of five years old, so you could end up sharing this all with us. .
[00:46:03] Alyssa Blask-Campbell: Thank you. Thanks for having.