187: Compliance vs. Regulation, with Greg Santucci

Picture of hosted by Penny Williams

hosted by Penny Williams

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Most of our systems that involve children are designed on the compliance model — that’s true in parenting and educating. We’ve leaned on compliance in our educational system since the 1800s, and it’s been part of our parenting culture for centuries. And yet, neuroscience has now taught us that there’s a monumentally better way. Through research we know that our neurobiology is a driving force in behavior — particularly our autonomic nervous system and our brain. We know that there are sensitivities and differences in our neurodivergent kids’ neurobiology too, making it crucial that we adopt this brain-based lens when responding to and managing behavior. 

In this episode, OT Greg Santucci, explains why focusing on regulation (and dysregulation) are both a more effective and more humanistic approach than compliance. He also provides some actionable mindset shifts and strategies to help you implement a regulation model right away.


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My Guest

Greg Santucci has been a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for 20 years and is the founding director of Power Play Pediatric Therapy in NJ. He is certified in Sensory Integration and the creator of the Model of Child Engagement. Greg has been lecturing nationally for over a decade on topics related to sensory processing, child development, regulation and behavior, and consults with families and school districts both nationally and internationally. He has dedicated his career to promoting neuroscience informed, relationship-based interventions to help parents and teachers support children of all abilities. He is still a practicing clinician, maintaining a caseload in both the public schools and an outpatient setting. Greg is married to a Pediatric Occupational Therapist and is DAD to two teenage children.



Greg Santucci 0:03

We tell kids what to wear, when to wear, what to eat, when to eat, where to sit, when to sit, what to say when to move, they don't have a lot of power or control over their own bodies. Because of our own adult agenda. We need the kids to just fall in line. And then when they don't, we've give them the labels. They're difficult and disruptive. They're defined.

Penny Williams 0:27

Welcome to the beautifully complex podcast, where I share insights and strategies on parenting neurodivergent kids straight from the trenches. I'm your host, Penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author and mindset mama, honored to guide you on the journey of raising your a typical kid. Let's get started.

Welcome back to the beautifully complex podcast. I'm really excited to be talking to occupational therapist, Greg Santucci today about regulation versus compliance, and the outcomes that we get from those and which is better, which I hope my regular listeners already know the answer to that, and what we can do to focus on those things that are much more helpful and kind of get rid of cast aside some of those old beliefs and old ways of looking at behavior. Thanks so much for being here. Greg. I'm super excited to have this conversation with you. I know that we have a lot of the same values and beliefs when it comes to this stuff. So it's going to be such a fun conversation. Will you start just by letting everybody know who you are and what you do?

Greg Santucci 1:40

Sure, and thanks for having me what you said my name right. Greg sand Tucci. I'm an occupational therapist. I've been an OT for 22 years now. I am the founding director of powerplay pediatric therapy, where I'm talking to you from New Jersey today. I am also the supervisor of OTL children's specialized Hospital in New Jersey. I've been lecturing nationally and consulting internationally now for over a decade, I think my most important credential is that I'm a dad, I have two kids of my own, I have two teenagers. So I'm really in that parenting thick zone right now. And enjoying every minute of it and being challenged at every minute of it. But as an OT, I love talking about regulation. I love talking about sensory processing and how that influences behavior. And yes, we are very much aligned in the way we think and the literature we reference. So I'm excited to dive in.

Penny Williams 2:40

Yeah, so let's dive in. And let's talk about what is compliance? And what is regulation. And why are they different?

Greg Santucci 2:50

I think, in general, when you're talking about having somebody comply, we all know what compliance is do what I say, when we talk about regulation, I can dip into some of Stuart Shanker his work, when he talks about regulation is dealing with a stressor, some stressor, positive or negative, and then dealing with that efficiently and effectively and then returning back to a level of being focused and alert. Sometimes I hesitate using the word calm, hmm, it works on some levels. And then I think of Michael Jordan, taking that game winning shot back in the 90s. And he certainly was not calm, but he was regulated when that shot went. And so regulation is more of understanding your internal state. And moving forward from there versus compliance is just somebody telling you what to do.

Penny Williams 3:44

I think of calm in this instance, and the way we talk about it, and being regulated as kind of being at peace, and your body and your mind, and your feelings are sort of in harmony, and that sort of thing. So it's beyond just like this idea of being serenely confident. Right. Right. Right. Certainly feel great. And also be high energy, as you were talking about, right? Yeah.

Greg Santucci 4:11

OTs love talking about energy levels. And , there's high energy levels, there's low energy levels, and you are at your best when your energy level matches the energy level of the demand or whatever the task that it is.

Penny Williams 4:26

So some things call for high energy level some things you need that that's a positive thing. And other times, , being super activated is not very, it does not feel good, or eight. And that's such a good distinction to make, because we have to talk about both the energy and also it was kind of this idea of pleasantness and safety. I wanted to backtrack a second and talk about compliance a little bit more, though, because I think that there's also this idea of sameness, when we talk about compliance, especially in the school environment. We want you to comply to doing what what the group is doing what everyone is doing in that environment. And that can be really, really hard for kids who are different. And they learn differently. And they express themselves differently and all these things, then they're seen as non compliant, even though they're just kind of being themselves and they want to do good. They want to follow instructions. Right. So I just wanted to add that little bit to it.

Greg Santucci 5:26

Absolutely. And, yes, schools are definitely a different beast. I mean, we have schedules, and we need schedules and structure. But at the same time, a kid may not be regulated for that 1020 math class. And you can try to push ahead with that math lesson. But I would submit that you're better off focusing on making sure that that kid is regulated or that kids energy level matches the energy level of said math lesson, you'll be much more successful. Getting that lesson in. Yeah, in terms of compliance. And like, from a parenting standpoint, like we tell kids what to wear, when to wear, what to eat, when to eat, where to sit, when to sit, what to say when to move.

Penny Williams 6:11

What to believe.

Greg Santucci 6:12

Yes, they don't have a lot of power or control over their own bodies. And that's where a lot of our compliance based and behavior based strategies come in, we're just we're telling kids what to do. Because of our own adult agenda, we need the kids to just fall in line. And then when they don't, we'd give them the labels, they're difficult, they're disruptive, they're defined, they're challenging. And then we use all of these behavioral strategies to try to get them back to being compliant so we can achieve our adult goals, I think that's where the real shift has to happen. That, , if we see a kid is for lack of a better word being bad, we're going to use behavioral strategies to reward bribe or punish them to make them be good. But when you're talking about regulation, and you can identify and you have the skills and the tools to identify that a kid is dysregulated, and now you're focused on helping them get regulated? Well, I just said the magic word, you're helping them. Yes, helping them get regulated versus bribing them, or threatening them to comply is the game changer that you and I and a lot of people out there are preaching right now,

Penny Williams 7:23

One of the biggest distinctions between compliance and regulation, for me, that really came up when you were talking is that in compliance, we don't take into account who that kid is, where they are, what's going on with them? Nothing. They're just sort of this nondescript box, right? And when we look at, okay, are they regulator dysregulated? Now, we're saying, I want to understand what's going on for them, I want to see them clearly this individual, I want to help them. And then, , seeing and hearing kids and having kids feel validated and understood, makes a monumental difference and behavior.

Greg Santucci 8:08

If you put that in our adult world, we all like to be heard, and be validated. So shocking, how somehow, we've neglected to consider that and kids because of some hierarchy we put on there that we outrank them, we know better, we've been where they are already. But a lot of these the strategies that are used, whether it's taking away a kid's phone, or taking away video games, or moving their clip, or taking away recess, , we have to stop and think, , how does that make them feel? Does it make them feel heard? No. And that would make us feel terrible. So I'm fortunate enough that I, , I talked to a ton of kids every week. And I asked them, especially in the schools about, , these flip charts and these rewards and missing recess and everything like that, and they tell you, it's not fair. Yeah, it's just not fair. Or they think either their mom or dad or their teacher was being mean to them. Because most of the time, the behaviors are not volitional, it's out of their control. It's more of a body are a brain issue. And what we're really doing is we're threatening the trust in the relationship. And if you don't have the trust of your child or your student, that's a big problem.

Penny Williams 9:26

Yeah, huge problem. There's no buy in, you can never have buy in from home trust. Yeah. So you're never going to succeed again, at that whole. Do as I say, compliance route, if you don't have trust, right, yeah. And to me, the difference is so clear. But I think we just get stuck in the way that we've always done things for so long. And we have sort of this generational perpetuation of the way we parent and what we should expect of kids and how we should see kids and define them and , we think that they're a reflection of us. So they must do as we say, and they must put a, , good foot forward out in the world, because, , people are judging me based on what my kid does, and all these things that just don't matter. Like, we all love our kids. And by parenting them through that compliance, or authoritarian model, doesn't really show it to them.

Greg Santucci 10:27

Yeah, this is where I defend parents and knowing how hard this struggle is. And Mona della does a great job of talking about not blaming and shaming parents or teachers, which is funny, because a lot of what we do with our behavioral strategies is blaming and shaming kids, and we're okay with that. But, but in terms of, , Parenting is hard, there is no manual. As soon as you throw in something like autism or ADHD, , it gets more complicated. And you you have to have the tools and the skills, I went into this, and I was already an OT for a long time before I became a dad. And there was still so much unlearning that I had to do, yeah, and the parent guilt that comes with it, and the amount of repairing that I had to do and it's important to repair and you have to be brave enough to be able to say to kid, you know what, I lost it, then I messed up, and you repair that and you move forward. So for years and years of committing to this model, I screwed up all the time. So it's a journey, but there are, , little things that you can do to unlearn what past generations did to us, or what we were exposed to, in our childhood, to just do right by our kids. I agree with you, the teachers love their kids, the parents love there, kids. That's not the question. Yep. It's just doing better than the generations before us. Because we have new knowledge now about how the brain works.

Penny Williams 11:56

Yeah, one of my favorite quotes is that when you know better, you do better. And , when you didn't know better, you have to give yourself some grace. So we all sort of parent through instinct, and the ways that we grew up are the people who are around us and those examples, until we know better. And teachers are not typically educated on neuro divergence. They don't have to learn about ADHD, autism, learning disabilities, not even dyslexia, which is so common to become a teacher. So it's not that they don't care. It's that they don't know, they don't know what to do with our kids, when, when they're not being compliant. I mean, let's boil it down. I don't know what to do when that thing that that they're told is what you do. And that's the expectation that every kid should meet when that doesn't happen. They just don't know a lot of the times. And so I think that's a big part of why we do the work that we do, right? Yeah, yeah. And there are a number totally

Greg Santucci 12:53

Each is out number 20 to 1, 30 to 1, and they don't feel supported. And what do I do when I've got 20 kids that I've got to push through, and I'm being measured on how they do on a test. And I've got, , one kid calling out every chance he gets and another kid flopping on the floor. So that's where when you're tired, it's close to impossible, but it can be done. But the first thing that I do when I walk into a classroom, and it's just one teacher and 20 kids is you better partner with those kids, if you try to control them, you're not gonna win. So if you take the time to build a community where everybody's working together and CO regulating together, you're gonna have a lot more success of getting that lesson.

Penny Williams 13:32

Yeah, I love that usually use the word community. Like that just sets the tone of collaboration, and that we're all in this together, right, and that we each have a part to play. But I think it recognizes that we're all different to love using that term. I wanted to talk a little bit you said, how does it make them feel? And what popped into my head was a lot of parents saying, why does that matter? Why does it matter how my kid feels if I told them to get their shoes on because we're late for school, and I'm going to be late for work, and then I'm gonna get fired. Why does it matter how my kid feels right then?

Greg Santucci 14:14

So in that situation, you're you're telling your kid 1000 times to get their shoes on? They're not getting the shoes on the bus is going to be there any minute and yes, you have to arrive at work. It may end for you. When the kid gets on the bus and you get to work, it does not end for your child. Yes, your child is now walking into school dysregulated although their clip will say they're in green, and they're ready to learn, which is they're coming in. Yeah, they're coming in stressed, they're coming in with mom or dad yelling at them. And they feel that and they own that and they're not going to have their best day. And then the behavioral challenges come the teachers wondering what's going on and all this back and forth. So So again, it's to human beings. So it may end for you when they get on the bus. But that kid is holding on to that.

Penny Williams 15:08

And so often it doesn't end for us either. Here's a parent of a kid with school avoidance and refusal for many, many, many years. , it colors your day, like sometimes the struggle, you're dysregulated to as the adult parent, , you have to deal with that as well. But, , those feelings matter because it builds trust, right? Like, there's so many things that we do, by taking into account our kids feelings, and just to validate them and show empathy really changes behavior in a lot of ways. It's kind of magical, when you use it appropriately. But it really sets that relationship, which is super valuable. When we talk about regulation, right? Our relationship, parents, a child, teacher to child professional to child, that matters. Right?

Greg Santucci 15:58

Right. And we have first crack at regulation, because we have a fully developed frontal lobe. Yes. So when we're talking about this back and forth, our initial reaction is going to set the trajectory for how this event turns out. So that if somehow, we can check ourselves, and just not let our emotions overpower us, and we can just take a second to pause and kind of go through what is this other human being in front of me communicating to me conveying to me, what do I have to hear in order to connect, that is the start of, again, changing the trajectory. So it's on us as adults first, to get to that regulated state before we interact so that we don't just explode on them, and it becomes a power struggle. That's hard. That's where a lot of my energy went for during my parenting journey initially. And it's extraordinarily powerful and very peaceful, when you can just take a second and be like, okay, they just cursed at me. , let me let me step back for a second and then approach total gamechanger.

Penny Williams 17:12

Oh, yeah, totally. Because now we're responding instead of reacting. Now we're being mindful instead of also being dysregulated. Honestly, you know.

Greg Santucci 17:22

And I know you've you've referenced Ross Greene's work before and how powerful is that? To just notice that somebody's having a hard time first to start the conversation with with, Hey, I see what's going on, I noticed that you're having a hard time what's going on? Like, that's amazing. It's such a great start, as the poster don't talk to me that way, or however we react from a dysregulated state?

Penny Williams 17:50

Yep. Yeah. And it's so much different, like those outcomes are so much different between sort of responding and kind yelling and screaming and slamming or whatever's happening, versus giving them some calm tomorrow, giving them some calm to attune to, I want to talk a little bit about how does a parent know if their child is regulated? Or dysregulated? Or how would a teacher know when that kid walks in the classroom in the morning? Are they really on green? Are they already having a bad day? Are they already dysregulated.

Greg Santucci 18:23

So if they're dysregulated, it could look a lot of different ways. It could be that they're just like, I mean, you can use different descriptors that can be disconnected, they can just be off, they can be bouncing off the walls, , their heads down on the table, , a lot of times you can read it in a kid's face, you can see their eyebrows or what their eyes are looking at, if they just seemed a little bit stressed, if they're having a hard time getting started on something, that's often a sign. So there's a lot of different ways that kid could be dysregulated, either high or low. I think a kid who's bouncing off the wall, it's pretty clear cut that they're dysregulated, a kid who's kind of zoned out and still thinking about their parent yelling at them in the morning, maybe a little bit harder to pick up on. But if they're not engaged in the activity, or they're not participating to the level that they're used to, it's a good assumption that you may want to put your regulation head on and do a little digging.

Penny Williams 19:27

And understanding. I think that different types of dysregulation can be helpful to to understand like there's, , fight flight. And then there's sort of freeze and shutdown, right. And those are two different just as you were saying they're two different modes. Right, my colleague and partner in the behavioral evolution, Sarah Wayland, she talks about how she has two kids who are neurodivergent in two boys and one was that shut down or freeze kid and they really didn't realize that he was dysregulated for a long time because he seemed compliant, right? Nobody was complaining because he You seem compliant, and then her second kid comes along, and they call him a very effective self advocate, because he was the, , sort of explosive. You could see it clearly when he was dysregulated. Right? So there's different sort of forms for lack of a better word of dysregulation,

Greg Santucci 20:17

The fly under the radar kids, it's, again, especially we keep going back to schools, but those are the kids that the teachers may miss. Because again, they're not the ones falling out of the chair. They're not the ones that are disruptive. So that's when you have a group of kids, for a teacher that for them could be the win, that that's not a kid that's going to draw your attention away from what you're trying to accomplish. Right. But those are the kids that we need to have our detective lenses on, and connect with them and see what's going on. So yeah, so a kid who's who's not engaged, their head is down, they're spaced out. They're just not participating to the level that we're used to seeing. Those are the kids that you need to get closer to, and not just assume that everything's fine, because they're not being disruptive,

Penny Williams 21:12

Those kids so often fall through the cracks. I think they fall through the cracks at school, but they also fall through the cracks with parents sometimes, yes, we just don't recognize that super low energy level. And the sort of disengagement is a red flag.

Greg Santucci 21:29

Yes. And yeah, you brought up a great point. And on some level, I can recognize this in my own household is that when you do have multiple kids who have, , multiple regulation categories, if you will, it's very easy for the high energy disruptive one to get all the attention. And we have to be very careful of that. Yes. So yes, when you have multiple kids in a household, obviously, multiple kids in a class, we have to be mindful of that. And checking equally in terms of what their regulation state is 100%.

Penny Williams 22:03

Yeah, let's talk a little bit more about checking it and how do we check in with a kid? , some of them like we're just saying, it's very clear, they give us clear signals, and others may not. But in either case, I think we have to check in we have to say, Okay, what's going on for you? Maybe How can I help? What do you need?

Greg Santucci 22:21

Sure. And so I'll go right to my son, my son's 13. He's a gamer. And he would, if he could completely run his own world, it would be Minecraft, Roblox valorant, fortnight, 24 hours, 25 hours a day. Yep, stay in his room, all his friends are online. So he's got a social network. So how I used to check in with him was I used to just go up there and be present. That's the first. So I go into their world, I learn about the games that he's playing, I say hi to his friends online, because I, they're his classmates, but I go into their world. And that will allow me to learn the language and the things that he's interested in. And it makes, it's a great way to connect, but it gives me a lot of information about, , what's going on in his world. So I check in by, again, I have to be careful, I have two teenagers. So I'm kind of like icky parent right now stay away from, I have to find that balance of not being this hovering parent, and yet showing interest in their special interests. I don't necessarily have to do a lot of talking. I just have to be there. And , a couple of poignant questions here and there, starts a great dialogue, and then you take it from there. I tell parents all the time, know what they're playing, know who they're talking to, , know who they're emulating on YouTube and who they're watching. You're going to learn a ton. And it's just going to help connect with them, build your relationship, show them that you are interested in their interests, and it just makes dialogue easier.

Penny Williams 24:00

Yeah. And that connection breeds regulation. Yes, , and I'll keeps coming back to that. Yes. I think it's so important to just show kids that we're interested and who they are and what they're doing, right that has its own powerful impact. And honestly,

Greg Santucci 24:16

I don't care about Roblox or fortnight or valorant. I just, and the people that watch on YouTube, sometimes I'm horrified. But I still I still go there. I could put that in a box and close it in my head and compartmentalize that because it's their special interests. But Roblox isn't my thing. , I'm old, but that's okay.

Penny Williams 24:39

Did I and I have a similar kid who would game 24/7 All his friends are online. , it's his world. And both my kids actually were into gaming and still are as young adults and I definitely didn't do my best in that area for a long time because, , they were both talkers when they were little like soup. Were talkers. And I got so tired about hearing about Minecraft and right because I wasn't my thing. And I just like, Could I take anymore. And instead, I really should have been showing interest. And they probably maybe would have had less to talk about if I had shown interest like they wouldn't have just gone on and on. But showing interest is so valuable. And I don't think we do it enough, we can be interested in knowing what they're interested in and not be interested in the actual thing that they're interested in. Right? Right, then that's the key.

Greg Santucci 25:33

You just triggered a story for me, a little autistic boy that I'm working with recently. And, , I had met him for the first time and he's a numbers guy, everything is numbers and times and watches and what time is it and how many minutes. And , he would run to his parents and his parents would like cover their watches and try to remove all numbers from his world, because they were just annoyed by the special interest of these numbers. And, , in school, I'm learning that they took the clocks down because he kept looking at the clocks. And I'm like, everybody's trying to eliminate his special interest. And I just went the other way with it. And so meeting him for the first time and not really knowing where this was going to go. And his parents just thinking that he was going to manipulate me into making everything about numbers, I went there with him. And I used his special interest as a tool for me. And we pin some numbers to things and he just looked at me like, you are awesome. And so like, wow, you like numbers, too. And what I had brought up to the parent, by the end of a one hour session, is that for the last 20 minutes or so he didn't mention numbers at all, that we were just doing our thing. And I did because that's a special, it's just so I knew that he liked it. So I knew that I had this as a little check in with him. And it was just it was such a wonderfully powerful session, but it was a 180 from what everybody else was doing. Like, okay, he's perseverating on this. So let's just try to limit it, versus embracing it and using it to build a relationship. And then, , I didn't lose control at all. Nobody was undermined during this. And the kid left saying that I was his new best friend. And I was like, Yeah, dude, you're number one to me, because you like number. So I'm just going to call your number one.

Penny Williams 27:22

I was just gonna say the other piece of that is that numbers are his comfort. Yes. Right. And when you take that away, all you're doing is increasing his anxiety and making him less regulated and less able to do things, right to meet expectations to do things. So when you embrace it, and you lean into it, right? You're making it more comfortable. And when he's super comfortable. Now, maybe he doesn't have to look at the clock every second every two seconds. Right? So there's so many layers to that too.

Greg Santucci 27:52

And I mentioned before about like reading a kid's face, like you saw it in his face you saw, , his eyebrows relaxed, and his eyes just had this glow. And his, his eye contact was like right on me just organically. Like he was just like, You have me. You are my friend. I trust you. Let's go. Yeah, , and I wish that for his parents and his teachers. And I would submit to them, try this, or, , validate him, and you're seeing it work. Like you just saw where I had never met the kid before. And you just don't work. So why not try it? Don't just say, oh, that's just a Mr. Greg thing. It's not, it's a dark kid thing? And go with it.

Penny Williams 28:39

Yeah, yeah, totally. And that kind of leads into what I wanted to talk about last, which is how do we start shifting from compliance to regulation shift from focusing on compliance to focusing on regulation? And I think, , one of those steps is to be open and willing to do things differently.

Greg Santucci 28:59

Absolutely. I have to go back to the because you kind of triggered me a little bit with the whole shoe thing and getting on the bus. And I'm an OT. So I have to talk about sensory processing a little bit. So I have a son who sometimes I think their ears are broken, especially when they're gaming. So I can tell him, that's using his auditory sense to put his shoes on 1000 times. It's not getting in, he's over focused on what he was doing. So I always talk about changing the sensory channels. So if his ears aren't working, use a different sense. We all know the five senses. There's a few more that's for a different podcast. Yeah, so when his auditory sense isn't his strong sense, and I will say that when a child is dysregulated, their auditory sense is not their strongest sense, their hearing can actually go offline. But if I walked upstairs There's two my son and handed him his shoes, which is touch that says tactile sense. And he would see them that's vision, he would put his shoes on. Or if I were to put the first shoe on him, and then say here, put the other one on an handed to her, I'm using different senses than so I encourage parents to change the sensory channel, that if their auditory sensory channel is not working, that doesn't mean get louder, and start yelling that may change the sense. So that can help a kid, get focused, get, , connect with you and get the job done. So that's my first example.

Penny Williams 30:42

I super wish I had known that 15 years ago. All the begging,

Greg Santucci 30:49

I don't want to say stop talking to your kids. But it's basically what I'm saying is when they're dysregulated, stop talking to your kids, they can't hear you.

Penny Williams 30:56

Yes, there's biological brain science behind that their thinking brain is not online when they're dysregulated. Right? So all the talking in the world, it's just like Charlie Brown's teacher, it's just not doing anything, or it's escalating. It's making them more overwhelmed, correct, yeah. And I talked to so many parents who are really concerned about the fact that their kid can't just get it all done themselves, my kids 12, he should be able to this or that. And my first point is always your shooting. And you shouldn't should, , your kid is not 12 developmentally, in a lot of ways. They're lagging. And so it's so simple. And it feels better to us to it's not just about our kids. But when we shift from nagging to taking, , 30 seconds to walk upstairs and hand them a shoe, right? It's just so different. It's a different experience for everyone and writer for all of us.

Greg Santucci 31:50

It doesn't necessarily take a lot of time, everything that we've talked about today doesn't cost any money. No, , changing the century channel doesn't involve some big curriculum or some big chart that you have hanging on the wall that you've had to make some Do It Yourself thing. And it is validating where the child is, and moving forward from there. But yes, it feels better for everyone. So we're moving from a kid feeling that it's unfair, a kid feeling that we're being mean to them, , the threat of a trusting relationship, like we talked about before, to being connected, and partnering with your child, and every buddy benefiting from that. So this isn't permissive. This isn't , just letting the kid do whatever they want, that you are partnering with your child and moving together towards getting whatever done you had to and it's extremely powerful. And when it's hard at first, it took me a very long time, I can speak now with two teenagers that it was so worth the effort. Oh, yeah, I feel the benefit so much. And although I still screw up every day, I am really at a place of peace with my parenting. And again, I do a lot of repairing still. Yeah, but it is worth the effort to take that 30 seconds to take that pause and start not from a place of just emotionally reacting from a place of what are they telling me? Complete game change?

Penny Williams 33:22

Are they telling me. Yeah, yeah, I could just use the word magical over and over about this stuff. Because really, it just shifts everything. , the ways that we talk to our kids and ways that we interact with them, and the ways that we understand them and validate them. It changes everything. Any more sort of action items that parents can take after listening to those. We've said shift your thinking, incorporate sensory, different senses.

Greg Santucci 33:51

Change the sensory channel, stop talking to your kids.

Penny Williams 33:55

Stop talking, yes, unless they ask you to and then you have to talk to them, or else you're gonna make it worse.

Greg Santucci 34:01

Yes, I literally say to myself, Greg, check yourself. When I have one of my kids do something that gets me and gets right to my emotional part. And I want to react, I literally say to myself, check yourself, the power of that pause is just enormous. And at first, it's hard and your significant other who's watching this go down may be thinking you're gonna let them talk to you that way. You're, I can't believe you're gonna let that happen. Check yourself and then approach it from a place of calm, and you will be very pleased with how it turned out.

Penny Williams 34:41

Yeah. And stop letting this idea of being permissive. block you from doing what really you need and your kid needs. I think we really get hung up on that.

Greg Santucci 34:53

Rght or being embarrassed because somebody else is looking at you. Yeah, right. Yeah,

Penny Williams 34:58

I have anxiety in social anxiety. And so when my kid was super melting down in the grocery store and screaming that he hated me, and that I was the worst parent ever, was very hard for me to learn that the judgment of others didn't matter. What mattered was that my kid was having a hard time. And I needed to help him. And, , yelling at him wasn't going to help. But just , that detachment from what other people are feeling, or thinking about us takes a lot of work. Especially for some of us, it's even more work. But it takes work like everything we're talking about. It's not like flipping a switch. We have practiced this for a long time. And as you said, we still make mistakes. But we own up to them. And we repair and we show our kids that we're human, and it's okay to be imperfect. And that's really what we're talking about here. , some things, you just have to shut out some things you have to shift, and a lot of things you have to keep practicing. And taking that breath and pausing is one that takes a lot of practice. We're wired to respond in kind, we are wired to start yelling right back. Like that's our body's instinct. So overriding that it takes work, yes, but you'll reap unbelievable rewards from doing it.

Greg Santucci 36:18

And you're going to build a generation of kids that are going to be co regulators, and we're going to change the world that way.

Penny Williams 36:26

Yes. It's such a good note to end on to wrap it up, right with that, let's change the world, one kid at a time, , and, and just think about, , just showing that you care to a kid is changing their world. Just being interested in what they're interested in is changing their world. It does make a huge difference. Just a little bit at a time, we can really affect change. Thank you so much. I'm so happy that we got to have this conversation together. And I hope that we'll have future conversations together as well.

Greg Santucci 36:57

Can we say this was magical? This was magical.

Penny Williams 36:59

It was magical. Greg, this was magical. I want every podcast to be magical. That's my new goal. So apparently, I use the word magical too much. I love it. I mean, hey, when things are super hard, and they're more hard for your family than a lot of other families, you're really attached yourself to those magical moments. This is what you do. Yeah. So for everyone listening, please connect with Greg and learn about his work. His social media is amazing. You will learn so much just by following his social media. And all of those links are in the show notes for this episode, which are at parentingADHDandautism.com/187. For episode 187. I am just so honored that you were here and that we got to have this conversation that you were able to share so much great insight and advice for the parents and some teachers who are listening as well.

Greg Santucci 38:02

And thank you for having me. And thank you for the amazing work that you do. And this was absolutely fantastic. So thank you.

Penny Williams 38:10

Thank you so much. And I will see everyone on the next episode. Take care. Thanks for joining me on the beautifully complex podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share. And don't forget to check out my online courses and parent coaching at parentingADHDandautism.com and at thebehaviorrevolution.com

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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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