Do. And then understand.

June 3rd, 2014

I spent last weekend in the middle of the desert in New Mexico visiting a residential program outside Albuquerque.

CAM00156I could tell you about being impressed that the facilities of the Sandhill Child Development Center were actual homes that were re-developed as residential programs; that each of the rooms (except bathrooms) and hallways are monitored by video cameras and motion detectors to increase everyone’s sense of safety; and that if a child gets up in the middle of the night the motion detectors alert the staff via cell-phone, who then check in on the child. Or that there was fruit and healthy snacks available and beautifully displayed in each kitchen. Or that the amount of light flooding each room of every house, I imagined, just HAD to brighten even the most darkened of hearts.

But it was the three-hour clinical conversation that really impressed me. There is so much to tell about it (and I’m guessing you’ll hear more at the next Parenting in SPACE conference), but I’m going to focus on just one slogan of theirs: “Drop the content.” Yup. I think it’s nothing short of pure genius.

The point is this: when our kids are out-of-control, in other words, when they are dysregulated, so we need to STOP talking about… whatever.  They CAN’T hear us anymore because they have gone to the pre-verbal, “reptilian” part of their brains that don’t process with words.

So, instead of talking… do. Do get them jumping on a trampoline, do get them walking on a treadmill, do a jumping-jack contest.

Just stop talking about whatever the issue is/was because they CAN’T process it. They’re in the fight-flight-freeze part of their brains.

And, of course, don’t wait for the full-blown out-of-control/dysregulated moment. When you FIRST sense the volcano building up pressure, THAT’S the time to “do” something.

There’s an old Jewish proverb: “Do. And then understand.” This is a great example of it that is grounded in neuroscience!