114: The Emotional Brain, Regulation, and Behavior with Lauren Spigelmyer, M.Ed.

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Emotions play a much bigger role in our lives and behavior than we often realize. Emotional intelligence, communication, and regulation are often delayed in kids with ADHD (and/or autism), which can cause dysregulation, anger, frustration, and unwanted behavior.

Join Lauren Spigelmyer, M.Ed. and I as we discuss how the emotional brain works, how to determine what’s causing emotional outbursts and other unwanted behavior, and how to help your child develop these skills and strategies to calm.


Some of the resources may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.

“I see…” strategy is from Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish whose work was based on Haim Ginott.

Wise Owl and Barking Dog:

“Now, picture a hand. The four fingers on top represent the prefrontal cortex or “the wise owl.” Again, it’s the area responsible for logic and problem-solving. The thumb represents the limbic system or “the barking dog.” The limbic system and amygdala are responsible for emotional processing. The wrist represents the brainstem.

When children are emotionally activated, the barking dog scares away the wise owl or the logical part of the brain. This can result in those challenging behaviors like hitting or biting.

Children need the wise owl to return in order to exhibit appropriate behaviors. To bring the wise owl back, you may need to help them calm down. If you correct too soon, they may become even more upset because the emotional part of the brain is still activated. Pause and wait to talk about appropriate behaviors when they are calm and able to listen.”

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My Guest


Over the past 10 years, I’ve helped SOOOO many people learn about the brain and how it impacts learning and well-being, which in turn changes behavior. With my master’s degree in education and a background in coaching, I thrive on building brain and research-based, child-driven trainings and courses. Being an adventurer, I love to find nontraditional solutions and make sure that boundaries are pushed.

When not solving problems for parents, I travel the world to explore non-western psychological approaches, such as Indian yoga, Chinese qigong, African drumming, and capoeira from Brazil. I also travel for food, fun, and the experience – it’s not all work! I create and teach brain biology courses at University of Pennsylvania, which aligns to my current research in behavioral neuroendocrinology. This field is FASCINATING! Aside from all the work stuff, I love to study wine, explore stinky cheese, hike, read, grow my jungle of a plant collection, ride motorcycle, and hang with my favorite humans.



Lauren Spigelmyer (00:03): When a child is stressed and triggered and their dog is barking, which causes their wise owl to fly away. Their emotions are kind of taking over and hijacking their thinking brain. And they can't think logically, they can't access for logic. And sometimes it gets so elevated they can't access language, communication.

Intro (00:25): Welcome to the Parenting ADHD Podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD, straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author, ADHD-aholic and Mindset Mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.

Penny Williams (00:55): Welcome back to the Parenting ADHD podcast. I'm really excited today to be talking to Lauren Spigelmyer, and we're going to talk all things, emotions, regulation, and behavior, how all of those things are intertwined and how to really help our kids to develop those skills and navigate those different areas. To be able to have better interactions with them, to be able to see improved behavior from them. Thanks for being here Lauren, will you start by introducing yourself to everyone?

Lauren Spigelmyer (01:26): Of course. Thank you for having me. It's my pleasure. I am Lauren Spigelmyer. I am the founder of the Behavior Hub. It's an organization that works with parents and with schools to teach kids how to manage those strong emotions, but do so with your very whole body holistic and natural way. But I'm not spending time doing that. I can be found at University of Pennsylvania and there I teach their trauma-informed and brain biology courses.

Penny Williams (01:52): I think trauma-informed is so, so important. I have found it so much more helpful in my own family, for my own kids, with both anxiety and with ADHD and autism. So love that approach. I think it's so remarkable and we often discount it as you know, every time we talk about behavior and trauma, I always start with trauma. Isn't not just being a victim or being abused, right? We all have big and little traumas throughout our lives. And so it's a really valuable way to look at so many of the challenges and find some improvement. So I love that you have that background. It's amazing.

Lauren Spigelmyer (02:33): I think that that's a great point. I wish almost we would put it under stress because trauma is a form of stress and we're all experiencing stress. So you would approach anyone dealing with stress the same way, which is almost everyone.

Penny Williams (02:45): Yeah. Yeah. I love that. Swapping it out for stress. Let's start by talking about the foundations of emotions, emotional brain, emotional regulation kids with ADHD, kids with autism, really often are very delayed, I think with emotional intelligence and skills, those nuances, and also with self-regulation, those are really important foundational aspect for us to be talking about for parents.

Lauren Spigelmyer (03:14): Yeah. I think for me, it starts with like really breaking down this concept for kids, for teaching it to adults. But how can we help kids to understand self-regulation and kind of the science behind it? So I actually start with even very young kids, like starting at three, teach them the parts of the emotional brain. And I do so by introducing this hand signal that I started out on Dan Siegel's work, Dr. Siegel came up with the upstairs brain, the downstairs brain. So it's the same concept, but then Georgetown University took it and really brought it down to the level of a young child and they call it the barking dog and the wise owl, which I love. It's so simple and so easy to understand. So how this relates to the emotional brain and emotional regulation is someone trying to describe these hand signals.

Lauren Spigelmyer (04:05): You would tuck your thumb across your palm and you would wrap your four fingers on top of your thumb to create kind of like a fist with your thumb tucked. And what each part represents, So the thumb that's tucked, that's what you would call your barking dog. And your barking dog is that limbic area of the brain. And that's in charge of and in control of that emotional processing that's going on. It's a little alert detection system that tells the stress response to respond or react as impulsive behaviors that happen. And then you have your four fingers across the top and they represent the wise owl. And the wise owl is a child's thinking brain. So prefrontal cortex. And we need that for logic and reason. So kind of how this hand signal works is when a child is stressed out, when they're triggered, and this is the same for adults, their thumb, the barking dog limbic area starts to bark.

Lauren Spigelmyer (05:03): So you can pretend your thumb is moving like a barking dog. And then what happens is that the loudness of the dog barking scares away the wise owl. So then you use your forefingers like an owl and you fly it away. So then your dog is kind of exposed and your owl is gone. It almost looked like a sign for letter B. So what that means then is that when a child is stressed or triggered and their dog is barking, which causes their wise owl to fly away, their emotions are kind of taking over, kind of hijacking their thinking brain. And they can't think logically. They can't even access for logic. And sometimes it gets so elevated that they can't access language and communication. So what we need to do, what we need to teach kids is that hand signal itself. So they can understand and recognize and have a visual connection to what's happening in their bodies and their brains. And then we want to teach them how to calm down that barking dog, because if they can calm the barking dog and it stops barking that wise owl can fly back and they can think again.

Penny Williams (06:08): I've talked before about kind of amygdala hijack, and it was such an aha moment for me as a parent for my son with ADHD. And I think for anybody in general, when I learned that when the emotions take over, when you get kind of flooded with emotions, you physiologically cannot access the frontal lobe and the thinking brain, because I'm a rationalizer. And I always tried to rationalize with my son every time he was upset about something or he was in a meltdown — I wanted to talk it through. I wanted to help, of course was my intention, but I was always making it worse and I didn't understand why. And that was why, because I was just piling on more for him to process when he already couldn't access really processing, rationalizing.

Lauren Spigelmyer (06:58): Yeah. It's so important. I think about it so many times when I see parents with young children, like when there's tantrums and like trying to calm them down and trying to redirect them and trying to communicate with them. And I'm like the prefrontal cortex, the wise owl is so underdeveloped for those kids in particular, because it doesn't develop until late teens, late teens, early twenties and thirties. So there's just no reasoning with them. Like you have to find a way to get their dog to stop barking first.

Penny Williams (07:25): Yeah. I love that. It's such a good metaphor. So let's talk about how do we get the dog to stop barking? And I know we have to have this conversation in very generalized terms because it's different for every individual, Right?

Lauren Spigelmyer (07:39): Yeah, definitely not. That's the hard part is we've created a framework at the Behavior Hub and teaching people and children how to calm the barking dog. But there is no one preferred modality. Every child responds to calming and coping techniques differently. So it's a little bit of trial and error to see what works for every child. And I would also say while we're simultaneously working on calming the barking dog, I also work with families to strengthen the wise owl. Because if you can do things to strengthen the thinking brain strengthen the wise owl, then kids are going to be more likely to stay in that brain. And this is the things that we kind of neglect. Sometimes they're not always as motivating for people to use with children. Cause it's like those meditation, mindfulness, yoga, all of those slow moving things that really slow your mind down are definitely harder to use.

Penny Williams (08:30): Yeah. So how do we explore what might work for our child to regulate, to calm the barking dog? How do we dive into that and figure out what really works?

Lauren Spigelmyer (08:44): I'm gonna kind of split this in two directions. The first thing I would say is some ideas for actual strategies, but I think part of it is thinking about what's causing the dog to bark and not necessarily the trigger itself. But what I do is I reference these five needs areas. So as children and adults, we basically have these five meet areas. And if one of these five, meet areas, or multiple, are not met, then that's when the dog barks. So they are the need to have control, which is a lot of kids, the need to emotionally or self regulate which is also most of our kids, the need for attachment or relationships and building bonds. It could be a physical need. So are they hungry? Are they tired? Are all their physical needs met? And the last one is, is it a sensory need?

Lauren Spigelmyer (09:38): I'm starting to slow down and think about, okay, why would this child's dog be barking? I think about those five needs areas. And I might read them down and like check. Yes, yes, yes. Okay. Now that I know what the needs are that are not getting met, what strategies can I put in place to meet those needs? Because I can put those things in place to meet those needs. The dog will stop barking and the behaviors will stop happening. So for example, let's say it's a control need. So if I know a child has a control need, and I, as an adult, I'm constantly taking away control, which is typically what happens, like do this, put this away, go here, stop doing that... A lot of our communication is from a more authoritarian approach. What I will do is I will think about, okay, what are some ways I can give back my child control, but still get what I need? So there are some simple ways to do that. I mean, even thinking about offering choices, I know that's not a new concept or a new idea, but the big thing that I coach parents on is are your choices fair and motivating? Do you offer two choice options that the child is going to want to pick?

Penny Williams (10:41): Yeah. I talk so often with parents and I even did a whole podcast episode on it, about finding ways to say yes and finding ways to shift that at least feeling and sense of control to your child. And I talk about measured choices, which is what you're talking about. We can still maintain boundaries and safety and that sort of thing as a parent, by offering a kind of a menu of choices. And then by choosing something themselves, the child feels a sense of control. And so it's really meeting the needs of both parent and child.

Lauren Spigelmyer (11:17): And there are lots of wonderful ways to get back control. I mean, there's a book, multiple books, actually, I believe by Haim Ginott. He was a parenting expert and talks about how to communicate with kids in a way that gives them control or power. In one of those, I think one of the writers came up with was using the I See strategy. So all you do is you point out what it is that you see that you want a child to do. Let's just say a dinner table — like the food or plates or whatever were left on the table and you want them to clean up their plate. You can tell them to put their plate in the dishwasher, sink, or whatever taking away their control. Or you can say, I see a plate on the table, or I see a plate that belongs in the dishwasher, and that's not telling them what to do. It's just posing a problem for them to choose how they would like to solve it.

Penny Williams (12:08): Yes! I think the more we talk out loud and the more we guide and facilitate rather than do for is so, so crucial for kids with ADHD. It's really helping to build that executive functioning.

Lauren Spigelmyer (12:24): Yeah. And I think self esteem, as well as for kids with ADHD, autism, and feeling like you're failing or feeling like it's not enough or feeling like you can't do these things. So I think for these kids in particular, building self esteem is so important. And when you give a child ownership and control over how to do things, you're helping them to build their self esteem.

Penny Williams (12:42): Yeah, for sure. That control piece is so powerful in so many ways.

Lauren Spigelmyer (12:47): Yeah. I would say that for 90% of the people I work with, 90% of the kids I work with, control usually comes up for them.

Penny Williams (12:55): It's a big piece of anxiety too. I just want to throw that in there. That's probably 90% sometimes of anxiety is not knowing what to expect and not being able to control what's going to happen.

Lauren Spigelmyer (13:08): Yeah. That makes sense. So my first step there with the dog is to figure out the needs areas. And I try to think of strategies that fit into those needs areas to see if that stops the dog from barking. And that's a more like almost preventative, like find the problem, see if you can change the way the problem is happening or occurring or stop the problem. And then the dog will stop barking. Same time, you want to take a reactive approach too, because sometimes some of the things that are making the dog bark are out of your control, like it could be for some kids like noise. Like I live across from a fire station. If I have a child who didn't respond well to that, I can not control when the fire station alarm is going to go off.

Penny Williams (13:43): Yeah. Sometimes you just have to remove from the situation with sensory stuff. And that's not to say that you won't get there at some point where they can regulate. So many families have a really hard time with finding that balance of avoiding doing things because their child has different needs and challenging their child and pushing forward and not letting kind of the disability get in the way of family life. And I think what's really important to focus on there is that we're not saying that they never will, in their entire life, be able to handle a siren, but they can't handle it right now. And we still have to work on it. And so right now, until that skill is better or until their sensory processing has evolved more, we might need to avoid that situation. And it's okay.

Lauren Spigelmyer (14:42): Yeah. And teaching them how to respond when they are overstimulated. I mean, that's essentially teaching them, your dog is barking. Okay. So now everybody's barking. We can't prevent that. It's already barking. So now what do we do reactively to help you get back to neutral or help to get your dog to stop barking? And that's where all these calming and coping strategies come in. I mean, if you search Pinterest or Google and kids, calming coping strategies, deescalation, there are hundreds of them. So I usually start by teaching categories of them and encourage families to think about what might work best for their child. But I would say most frequent movement breathing, some calming touch. So sometimes like some pressure on like the head or the shoulders, or like a hug or a squeeze might help. We'll do a lot of movement stuff.

Lauren Spigelmyer (15:29): So like body resistance work, lifting, pushing, pulling things of appropriate weight for a child, maybe some exercise in there, we'll do a lot with water and then getting a drink of water or sounds of water. Even sensory water buckets or tables or things like that. And the other thing too, is if they're upset and they're crying or they're screaming, if they have a little cup or bottle of water or something they're drinking, they can also be doing that. So it helps a lot of kids that do a lot of screaming.

Penny Williams (16:01): Yeah. I always think about polyvagal theory and the autonomic nervous system. And so the barking dog really means that our nervous system is activated and we're kind of in fight flight or freeze at that point. And what can be calming to your nervous system? There are things that you can do that will have a physically calming effect to you. We've just started using shaking, found that in relation to the vagus nerve and activating the vagus nerve and doing these shaking activities because animals primally kind of shake in stressful situations. And so that one has actually been very helpful, but like cold water on your face. And then that mindfulness stuff comes in. Breathing activities can be so, so valuable for that too. We're not just calming emotions, we're also calming the body. And I don't think we typically think about that as a parent. I certainly didn't until I knew more and knew better. So there's a lot of things there too that open the door as well.

Lauren Spigelmyer (17:06): Yeah. I mean, even searching like in the polyvagal theory and ways to calm the nervous system, you can get, there's shaking, there's humming, there's singing, there's dancing. And again, it goes back to your own child thinking about what are some of their interests and what might they respond to, and then thinking about you, like is what we're using going to bring their energy up more, or is it going to bring down, because some kids, the exercise like kids that aren't really hyperactive, I'm not always gonna use exercise with them to calm down. Cause it might actually take their energy up more. I might focus on more of the opposite, so that breathing, or like some kind of art or coloring activity, or something more hands-on and sensory oriented.

Penny Williams (17:46): Or heavy weight, like for my son a weighted blanket and any of those sort of heavy weight activities, he was very, very hyper when he was young, but the weighted blanket and the heavy weight activities and anything that squeezed, HOWDA hug chair, a hammock, hammock chair any of those kinds of things for him were what brings that energy down. Right?

Lauren Spigelmyer (18:07): No, that makes sense. And it's like a fun side fact, but I think it wasn't Eric Jensen's work. I was reading that the maternal resting heart rate is about 80 beats per minute. So all of us kind of regulate to that. So we can bounce or swing or dance or move to rhythms or songs or anything that's 80 beats per minute or below will bring us back down to neutralization.

Penny Williams (18:32): It's interesting that you brought that up because I think rhythm is really important too. My son actually creates heavy beat music to calm himself. He listens to heavy metal. He creates his own music that has really heavy beats. And then he'll listen to that to calm himself, which is completely polar opposite to me. Like I can't imagine, but for him it actually calms him, which feels crazy.

Lauren Spigelmyer (19:01): Yeah, it is. And that's why it's so hard. I can give you the list of things to try, but everyone's going to respond so differently and definitely like what works for me may not work for you. It may not work for them. And it's really just a little bit of trial and error.

Penny Williams (19:13): Yeah. I think that just really illustrates that it is very individualized and things that you may not ever dream to be calming might actually be calming to your child. Really think out of the box, really be open to trying some things that really seem like they're going to be the opposite of what they need because a lot of times those things actually work.

Lauren Spigelmyer (19:37): Yeah. This is hard because we're moving so fast and we're in a society that breeds busy and productive people, but pay attention to when they are calm. What are they doing when they're calm? Like what is it that calms them? And if we don't usually pay attention to the moments that they're calm because they're calm, I have a minute to breathe. So I'm going to go do my own thing. If you can slow down and just close your eyes and think about, okay, what are some things that have made my child seem calm or calmed down? Like what do they do that makes them feel grounded?

Penny Williams (20:09): Yeah. And you can approach it as an experiment with your child. Hey, we're gonna experiment with some different things and figure out what helps you to calm down, because they want to calm down too. They're not having any fun when their dog is barking and in those overly emotional, intense times. So kids tend to really connect with this experiment sort of approach. And I think that brings a little element of fun to this, trying to figure out what is going to help them and trial and error. I think we shy away from asking kids for their input when they're super young, but sometimes they really will at least have a clue for you. There's at least a clue in what they're saying.

Lauren Spigelmyer (20:52): Yeah, I think so. They have the answer inside and they just don't know it. And we don't take time to ask because we don't think that they will know and really, biologically, they do. They do know. Yeah. Yeah. I would just think about all the different categories, the sensory and food and water, like crunchy chewy snacks can often be really calming. And again, then that list is just there, there are hundreds of ways to calm down. But the biggest thing I would say with any of those and choosing them is we need to teach them to the child before they're upset. We need to teach them when they're calm. Then that's the biggest part because so many parents and educators try and teach them or use them on the spot.

Lauren Spigelmyer (21:32): But the problem is that wise owl, that thinking brain, is gone so they can't hear the language. They can't learn at that moment and they can't retain, they can't often pull things very well from memory. So what I'll do is I'll teach it a minute or two in the morning. If I'm at school it's during the morning calendar, it's at home, it's maybe like before or after breakfast or it's before bed, but the teaching, just one of those coping calming skills, practicing them, pretending to have a strong emotion and then going through the sequence of using it and talking about how I feel afterwards and just repeating that pattern until the skill is learned and then teaching a new one and then a new one. And then in the moment when they are upset, you might be able to say the name, just the single name of the strategy and pull it out of memory for them. Or if they can't do it, what I do is I just co-regulate. So I just do right beside them what I want them to do without telling them to do anything. All I do is just model it physically for them.

Penny Williams (22:25): We forget to do that. So often I talk about being the calming anchor so that our kids can co-regulate with our energy level. And I wouldn't have even thought about actually doing what I wanted them to do. Oh, if I want you to listen to music, I'm going to go and I'm going to get my headphones and I'm going to start up some music and just modeling that is super important too.

Lauren Spigelmyer (22:49): And it's hard. It's hard for us because our barking dog works the same way. So they're triggered, they trigger us, our dog barks, and then we can't think logically. So we don't necessarily think to do those things or pause and that that's hard. But if you can, if you start to understand this idea, that barking dog, the wise owl, and you start to apply it, it'll start to come to you in those moments. And you'll be like, ah, I can do something to calm my own barking dog. Just model something that I would use is modeling for them how to calm down. And I'm calming myself.

Penny Williams (23:20): And it's so important for things like the breathing exercises and mindfulness to be doing that frequently and consistently outside of those times, because that then creates the ability to use it. When your frontal lobe is kind of offline it's really hard to access it. My daughter, who's in college, has a lot of anxiety and she tells me all the time it's so hard when I'm flooded and I'm about to panic to think about those things that I should do and do them. And we always talk about, well, if you're doing them all the time, then they're natural, right? Plus they have some preventative benefit as well. If you're practicing mindfulness and you're practicing calming yourself and refocusing yourself on a regular basis, you start to live in that space more often it becomes part of your normal and makes it a lot easier when your dog starts barking.

Lauren Spigelmyer (24:19): That's totally true. I was just listening to some research recently this week, about breathing in particular and how, especially in Western world, we are mouth breathers and a lot of us breathe through our mouth and how detrimental that is to our health, especially our nervous system and being super mindful of breathing more, just not even when upset or when your dog's barking, but just in general, making sure that you're aware of breathing out of your nose. Now that's harder for young children, but I think about, okay, well, is there anything that they can put in their mouth to enable them to get more breath through their nose or something they can chew on or bite on or some things so we can kind of train their body to do more nose breathing.

Penny Williams (25:00): That's so interesting. I never thought about that.

Lauren Spigelmyer (25:03): Yeah, it's actually so interesting because it's like a Hunter gatherers to present day and in a Hunter gatherer time of being, we were using our jaw a lot. We were chewing a lot. And then we went into farming, foods got softer. And then we got into like the dairy and then more present like processed foods. So we have over the hundreds of years gotten softer and softer. So our mouths have actually gotten smaller in size, but our teeth have not. So our teeth don't fit in our mouth, which is why the teeth are proponent, meaning braces, because mouth sizes aren't fitting their teeth. And all of that impacts your ability to breathe the right way. So we were supposed to be known as breathers because our mouths are small and our teeth are still big. We naturally breathe out of our mouths.

Penny Williams (25:44): Hmm. I'm a nose breather. I can't stand when I'm sick and I have to breathe out of my mouth. So I never thought about it because I'm just not that person, but that's amazing. It's so insightful.

Lauren Spigelmyer (25:56): Yeah. That's a good piece of research, but I just wanna touch on the other end. We talked a lot about the barking dog. And we talked about a couple of ways to calm and thinking about those five needs areas. The other end of that is being preventative and working on the things to grow the wise owl. So again, you have to do those things when kids are calm, but they can be fun. They don't like when we think of mindfulness and meditation and yoga, like, kids don't slow down enough to do that. And my child is impulsive and ADHD and they don't have the attention span to do that, but there are ways to be able to get them to engage in that, to make it motivating. So for example, some mindfulness activities I've done with families, One is a blindfold taste test. So we pick a couple of things. I blindfold the kids and give them on a plate, like a new food or a new snack, or maybe even something familiar. And they go through this process of touching it and they smell it. They they bite it and then they eat it. And I had to guess what they think the food might be. And it's just a fun game to play that really slows down the mind and the brain and goes through all the senses and grows the thinking brain.

Penny Williams (27:06): Yeah. I would think the same thing with like different objects and touching them to try to figure out what they are when you're blindfolded would be similar.

Lauren Spigelmyer (27:14): Another really simple one is just having them draw or paint or create an everyday object. So like picking something in the house and drawing or painting it. And one way I get younger kids motivated to do it, we use a massive piece of paper or we tape something upside down, like underneath the table or a desk and they draw it upside down. They're laying on their back and their hand is up and just the position and the different location that's abnormal and not right at the table makes it seem far less like work and just more like fun and play.

Penny Williams (27:44): Yeah. There's also yoga for kids where they feel more like they're pretending. I know there's a series. I haven't seen it, but a client actually told me about it with different Disney characters. And they're pretending to be the Disney characters, but they're doing yoga. So a lot of imaginative play can work on those same things that mindfulness does and the mindfulness can be so short. Just a couple of minutes a day, maybe five days a week would make a monumental difference.

Lauren Spigelmyer (28:16): Huge. I mean, even if we can start like a minute a day. Even if you can start there, start with 30 seconds, but start somewhere within reach.

Penny Williams (28:25): Yeah, totally. What else? So strengthening,

Lauren Spigelmyer (28:29): Strengthening the wise owl, working on the barking dog, trying to embed it. And I would say a really easy way. Board games or card games that require kids to stop and think before responding. So think of like twister, Jenga, some older games like Kerplunk, and Don't Break the Ice. Like if you don't pause and stop and look at the game board to see your next move, you're likely to lose. So I play a lot of those games with kids and really work on and coaching them through stop and think or stop and look so that you have a better chance of winning. And that hits that thinking brain. And it really hides the work in game form.

Penny Williams (29:16): It also works on impulsivity. So many of these things that we talk about when we're talking about activities to build one skill or another to help in certain areas, they really do overlap a lot of these areas that kids tend to be delayed in with ADHD and even autism: executive functioning and problem solving and all these things. We're also working on those sort of things with a lot of the activities that we're talking about. And that impulsivity is a big one.

Lauren Spigelmyer (29:46): Yeah. That's a huge one. It goes back to overstimulation and so many things going on in the world and even just so much stimulation in the world in general, like the bits of information that we have to take in every day and in classrooms too. There's so many things in classrooms right now. And I was like, Oh, if we could just go back to that more naturalistic nature oriented classroom, where there's just a very few things and more blank space and less color and overload of numbers and pictures and posters and things — simple, very simple.

Penny Williams (30:20): I think we've gotten so detail oriented as a culture. And if we were much simpler, it would be so much easier on all of us. Anything else that goes with this that you want to be sure that we talk about? I think we've talked about both areas and working on both areas.

Lauren Spigelmyer (30:38): I would say the biggest thing is just if we can't get our kids to practice or do some of these things on the spot, the next best thing is model it and do it yourself. I have so many parents I can't get to do that. They won't stop. They won't practice. I'm like then just model it for them because, by watching you their mirror neurons in their brain are seeing what you're doing in times of stress or anxiety or whatever emotion you're feeling. And by you modeling that for them not even requiring them to do anything, their brain is starting to store that memory and register it to be able to pull it out and use it later.

Penny Williams (31:09): So important. So important. We get so caught up and we're so emotionally invested in our kids. And sometimes it's really hard to step back and be more thoughtful because they get emotional, we get emotional, that one barking dog in a neighborhood tends to turn into several barking dogs. And it's the same emotions that intensity spreads if we let it. And we have to be really mindful of doing this work for ourselves too. The better that we feel, the better we can do for our kids. And we tend to lose sight of that. We so easily sacrifice ourselves as parents and it's really not helpful at all. It's detrimental.

Lauren Spigelmyer (31:54): I agree. Completely agree.

Penny Williams (31:56): Why don't you tell us about your new course that has just launched? What is it and where can folks who are listening find it.

Lauren Spigelmyer (32:03): So we just launched actually two courses back to back because they kind of go together. You could take both separately, but the one that is coming out very soon in the next couple of days is a course that just teaches parents and educators how stress impacts the brain and how that impacts behavior and kind of the science behind why behaviors occur and then what to do in response. And then the secondary part of that goes in much, much, much deeper into teaching kids, how to regulate their emotions and states. So all that strategy work kind of goes into a lot of those coping calming techniques, what to do and how to do it and when to do it and why to do it. So those two recently came out and they can be found on our website, thebehaviorhub.com under our services tab, there's a courses option.

Penny Williams (32:53): Awesome. I hope everybody will check it out. We think very similarly about behavior and working on behaviors, communication and all the different sort of signals that behavior is and how to improve that as to really work on triggers and underlying things and unmet needs. And all of these things that you've talked about is the way that you're going to be most successful with behavior. I always love talking about behavior because I think we look at it so, so backwards in our culture. It's not good or bad. It's just what is. It's a reaction. It's a signal of an unmet need or a lagging skill. And when we look at it that way, we don't take it personally. It's easier to stay calm. And we can really affect change that way in a positive way.

Penny Williams (33:42): And in a way that maintains our relationship with our kids, which is also so, so important when we're yelling and we're fighting and we're mirroring that intensity or damaging our relationship with them. And that's only going to cause more deterioration, really such super valuable information. I really hope everybody listening checks out your course. I'll also have a link to it and other ways to connect with Lauren in the show notes for this episode, and to get those show notes, you'd go to parentingADHDandautism.com/114. I thank you again for sharing some of your time and wisdom Lauren. With that, we'll end the episode.

Lauren Spigelmyer (34:26): Thank you.

Penny Williams (34:30): Thanks for joining me on the Parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingadhdandautism.com.

Thank you!

If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. Have something to say, or a question to ask? Leave a comment below. I promise to answer every single one. **Also, please leave an honest review for the Beautifully Complex Podcast on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and appreciated! That's what helps me reach and help more families like yours.

I'm Penny Williams.

I help stuck and struggling parents (educators, too) make the pivots necessary to unlock success and joy for neurodivergent kids and teens, themselves, and their families. I'm honored to be part of your journey!

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About the show...

I'm your host, Penny.

Join me as I help parents, caregivers, and educators like you harness the realization that we are all beautifully complex and marvelously imperfect. Each week I deliver insights and actionable strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids — those with ADHD, autism, anxiety, learning disabilities…

My approach to decoding behavior while honoring neurodiversity and parenting the individual child you have will provide you with the tools to help you understand and transform behavior, reduce your own stress, increase parenting confidence, and create the joyful family life you crave. I am honored to have helped thousands of families worldwide to help their kids feel good so they can do good.

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