Emotional Intelligence and Sensory Regulation: Alyssa Blask Campbell

Emotional Intelligence and Sensory Regulation with Alyssa Blask Campbell

Alyssa Blask Campbell, Med, is an emotional development expert with a master's degree in early childhood education. She is the founder of Seed and Sew, an online modern parenting community, and the co-created the Collaborative Emotion Processing (CEP) method, a how-to guide for responding to tiny humans' big emotions to build emotional intelligence from infancy. Through Seed and Sew, Alyssa trains parents, educators, and caregivers in emotional coaching and understanding emotional intelligence. She also created and hosts Tiny Humans, Big Emotions parent support groups as virtual hangouts to dive into all things parenting. Alyssa’s goal is to help families and caregivers build strategies for responding to challenging behaviors in a way that supports the development of emotional intelligence.  

Throughout the episode, Alyssa discusses the connection between sensory regulation and emotional development and how as adults, our ability to connect with and guide our children is directly impacted by our level of sensory regulation. Alyssa also touches on the science behind co-regulation, provides tips to support children who struggle with anxiety and gives a few “say this” instead of “that” examples. 

Links: 

Seed and Sew website: Seed and Sew 

Alyssa’s Podcast: Voices of your Village 

Seed and Sew Instagram: Seed.and.Sew 

The Parish School on Instagram: ParishSchoolTx 

The Parish School Website: The Parish School 

 

Stephanie Landis (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to Unbabbled, a podcast that navigates the world of special education, communication delays, and learning differences. We are your host, Stephanie Landis and Meredith Krimmel, and we're certified speech language pathologist who spend our days at The Parish School in Houston, helping children find their voices and connect with the world around them.

Stephanie Landis (00:28):

In this week's episode, we chat with emotional development expert and early childhood educator, Alyssa Blask Campbell. Alyssa is the founder of Seed and Sew which offers emotional coaching and training to parents, teachers, and caregivers. She also co-created the Collaborative Emotion Processing method, a how to guide for responding to children's big emotion in ways that builds emotional intelligence. Throughout the episode, Alyssa discusses the connection between sensory regulation and emotional development, and how as adults, our ability to connect with and guide children is directly impacted by our level of sensory regulation. That part in particular really resonated with me. Alyssa also touches on the science behind co-regulation, provides tips to support children who struggle with anxiety, and gives a few say this instead of this examples. We hope you leave this conversation, not only with new ways to support your child, but with the same feeling of being, and understood and seen as we did.

Stephanie Landis (01:27):

Welcome to Unbabbled, we are really excited to talk to Alyssa from the Instagram Seed and Sew, she has a wonderful feed that Meredith and I learn from all the time. So we're excited to talk to her and get many of our, andour coworkers questions answered. So welcome, Alyssa. Thank you so much for coming.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (01:46):

Yeah, thanks for having me. I'm excited to hang.

Stephanie Landis (01:49):

So your background is in education, but you talk a lot about building emotional intelligence. How did that all start for you?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (01:57):

Totally. Yeah, my background's early childhood education and I was working at a school where every head teacher had to have a masters in early childhood was super rare for early childhood like childcare program. And it was research based. So you could do research on our kiddos at this school heavily resourced, super delicious. And I sort of partnered with this colleague where we would video record our colleague and then go over the video with them. And this was just like part of how our school operated to be able to check in with each other and kind of like peer mentor, if you will. And so she was videoing my classroom and, and would give feedback and we'd go over it together. And I would do the same for her. And she, at one point was actually over a mimosa brunch. She was like I feel like we're doing something different than I'm noticing outside of our classrooms. And so we explored kind of what was it that was different. I'd also observed this, but couldn't like put our finger on it. And we realized it kept coming back to the connection between sensory and emotional regulation. And so we kept just like diving deeper into like, what did this look like? Our school had a social emotional curriculum, but I'm gonna throw that in quote because it didn't apply for us. Like it didn't cover what we were doing or support what we were doing. And so we dove into research around emotional development and we were trying to find like the curriculum or a program that we felt in alignment with. And that really illustrated what we were doing in practice with our kids. I was teaching infants and she was teaching preschool at the time. And in reading all this research, we just couldn't find anything. So we ended up creating our own method called the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. That's C P for short, and we researched it in schools across the US. And we actually just are writing a book on it now. So that it just kind of like, yeah, was born from just naturally, I guess. <Laugh>,

Stephanie Landis (04:09):

That's amazing. And also that you found the connection between the sensory regulation and the emotional regulation. Can you touch a little bit more on that?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (04:21):

Yeah, for sure. So everything that we were kind of coming across that was like social, emotional development was heavily social focused. It was on like getting kids to show up in a certain way, whether it was to be kind or respectful or to be able to communicate their feelings or all these things that we considered, like how higher level that, like, that would be great. But as an adult, I can't do those things. If my nervous system is dysregulated, if I'm hungry, if I'm tired, if I'm embarrassed, if I'm frustrated or the number of times that I would sit in the meeting and have feelings, like can't articulate my thoughts to put words to what I'm feeling, because my nervous system's dysregulated and then leaving that meeting and being like, oh, now I can think of all the things I wanna say. Right. And so like, if I was doing that as an adult, like, what does this look like for kids? We just kept seeing this social component without a focus on what do you do with the emotions? How do we regulate our nervous system so that we can process emotions, not for the sake of being kind, but for our own sake of being able to show up as a regulated human or navigate these hard emotions. And yeah, that was let us there.

Meredith Krimmel (05:42):

I love that you talk about like the adult regulation piece, something that you do really well on your Instagram is talk about how we as adults are still needing our own sensory needs. You talk about how we like swing, or we pull our children on a blanket all the ways that we are, you know, in expected ways, getting our sensory system regulated. And, you know, it's a really nice reminder that we need the same things our kids need, but it just looks different and we need to model that. And that, I think that's like such a great thing for parents to remember.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (06:12):

Yeah, it doesn't go away. We all have a nervous and it really like is from the get go. There's a little bit of work we can do around, there's a bunch of neuroplasticity as y'all know, in those early years up until about three and then a little more until five. And then after that, neuroplasticity is a little harder to work with. And we are often like kind of set in stone with our nervous system in terms of what types of input help you feel regulated. Or for me, I love what's called perperceptive input, which is that big body touch. And I could wear a baby all day long and not leave feeling touched out. Whereas my husband who craves vestibular input, which is moving the plane of your head, he would like wear our son for a bit and be like, I need to tap out. That's not for me all day long. And he sits in a chair for work that like can bounce backwards so that he can like get a little bit of that input all day long if he needs to. And when I was picking out my office chair, the number one thing I wanted was for a, to not bounce backwards because for me, if I get too much vestibular input, like my bandwidth for it is not very big. It can be dysregulating for me. It's something that comes up actually for a lot over in Instagram and within our village about how do I know what my kid needs and how much, and what's that bandwidth. And it's tough because it's unique for all of us. It's a little trial and error to figure out like my kid gonna wanna spin on this chair 10 times or five, you do it 10, and then they're like off the wall, but you did at eight. And that was great. We then could go into lunch in a regulated state. We trial and error beforehand. But yeah, we all have these nervous systems that are unique to us. And I think we often forget about ours in an effort to focus on theirs. And we can't focus on theirs without taking into consideration ours.

Stephanie Landis (08:07):

As you're saying that I'm picturing almost every night in my household, that my husband bounces his legs on the couch. And after about like 30 seconds, I'm like, you have to stop bouncing. I cannot handle that. So I'm pretty sure that we need new couches. I'm just gonna buy a separate love seat so you can bounce. And I can be still with my deep pressure and life will be better. One of the things that I see speaking of the regulation is that you can't a dysregulated adult, can't regulate a child. Do you have any tips on finding ways to regulatelating ourselves?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (08:42):

Yeah, for sure. Boy, do I have tips on this? First I wanna note that my husband also does that and I will literally I'll put my hand on his leg and be like, where are you going? And it drives me bonkers. And what has been very helpful for us is having like a glider or a rocker in our living room that he can sit in and at least get some input before he joins me on the couch. <Laugh> you go fill that sensory bucket and then come on over. I really don't want you here before them. <Laugh> but so I feel you. One thing to, to note is that our nervous system is processing this information all day long. So from the light, the sounds that we're planting of the clothes, we're wearing a kid being on our body. I mean, the sounds alone with the kids around you, the touch it's, it can be a lot and it can be a lot really early. And it's cumulative throughout the day. Our body's processing this information to say like, is this important? Do I need to pay attention to it? If a car goes by right now, my brain will process that and I'll be able to keep talking and show up with you, because my brain's gonna say not important. Don't pay attention to it. If my fire alarm goes off, my brain's gonna say, Ooh, yikes, it's important. Pay attention to it. So this is running kind of like apps on a phone. It's running in the background all of the time and pulling from our nervous system. And it is cumulative that it's pulling all day long for me. I notice that if I like do something outside of the ordinary, like if I go to a conference and I'm, there's so much noise, there's so much going on around me, I leave like a workshop or a conference, and I'm like, who like depleted it's been really pulled from and they need to pour into that nervous system. And so for folks who are realizing like, man, when I get to I'm like cannot wait for nap, time to come because I need a break. Or the afternoon I'm hitting my wall by three or 4:00 PM, whatever it even noticing that. But that really is, is that your nervous system has been pulled from all day long and it doesn't have any reserves left. We think of it as a bank where there's withdrawals coming out and we need to make deposits throughout day. So we can do things in the moment and I'll go through some of those ideas. But the best thing we can do for our nervous system is pour to it in little bits, all day long. It doesn't have to be like going for a 30 minute run. It can be when I go to the bathroom, I'm not gonna take my phone. I'm going to instead breathe for 60 seconds. When I go for a walk, same thing. The phone is a big one because things that we often did in the past that we're regulating now aren't because the phone is that screen as a withdrawal. I even noticed. I started, I was finding like I was getting to like first snap of the day and like feeling a little fried. And I had had been taking Saji my kind of human for a walk every morning. And I would have my phone with me and I was listen to a podcast and I started cutting out that podcast and just being like, I'm just gonna go for a walk with him and he's an infant. And so he is just sitting in a stroller, chilling, looking at trees, feeling jazz about being outside. I am just gonna be out there too. Right? And at first it was like boring. I was bored. And then I started to really find that like, Ooh, my cup was more full by the time I got to nap time. So like having that walk was restorative, actually being outside, walking in, nature's rad for your nervous system. Your eyes are gonna go back and forth, which is regulating for your nervous system. Specifically, walking in nature that'll happen. And this is why things like EMDR work. It's, it's all focus on eye movements and it helps regulate that cortisol or adrenaline in your body. And so it'll kind of give your nervous system a little break there, but so pouring into it in little bits and pieces all throughout the day is really, really helpful. And then we're going to look at in the moment, the thing we often forget is breathing and it's the fastest, most accessible way to regulate your nervous system. And we often in the moment, aren't like, I'm gonna take deep breaths. And so for if you can even just focus on like starting to notice when you're dysregulated, it doesn't have to be right at the beginning. It can be at any point, just focus on a big exhale, just let out because we often clench and hold. And so if you can exhale, it'll like kick your,usystem into taking deeper breaths. So you just focus on that in the moment can be largely helpful. Uand I would say to my kiddos, I'm feeling overwhelmed. I'm just gonna breathe. And I would count out loud. I'm gonna take five deep breaths. I would do them. And after each one I'd count, they will start to do it with you. Ueven if they, at first fight, I've had kiddos grabbing my face, no don't breathe. That don't want, they want me to join them in their chaos. Right? Put their nervous systems designed for, and I am saying, no, I'm gonna get calm, which isn't necessarily feeling like connection for them. And, and it is a key for being able to support them in, in regulating their nervous system. But as I did it more and more and more with kiddos,uthey would start to join me in it and eventually they can start to do it themselves. It is a higher level skill. It is not something I would expect a tiny human to be tapping into right out the gate.

Meredith Krimmel (14:03):

You know, you say it's cumulative. And then that makes sense. The evenings are the hardest time in my house. I I'm out touched my, I, I can't hear any loud noises anymore. And, and then we sit down and do homework and, you know, cook dinner and, you know, multitask all these things. And I'm thinking sometimes I drive home from work and I don't even realize my radio never came on. And I'm, I guess my I'm just naturally trying to regulate myself and feed into my bucket before I go into the chaos of the evening routine.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (14:35):

Yeah, for sure. A friend of mine, her Instagram is milestones in motherhood. She's a pediatric PT. Casey. She has like noise, cancel ear plugs that she wears throughout the day. When she's home with her kiddos, she can still hear them, but it just like calms it a bit. And she was like, it's a lifesaving. Like it's just, it's less for my nervous system to be taking in. And I think finding little things like this. My mom growing up, I'm one of five kiddos and my mom would stay at home parent and she would say, I'm gonna close my eyes. And she would sit on the couch and she would just close her eyes. And you just knew you weren't allowed to bug her. Unless there was like a fire or someone was actively bleeding and it just like became like, it was the rule and she was so good at self care. And like, this is what self care is to me. It's taking care of your nervous system. It's not necessarily a weekend away or dinner out. Although those might also fill your bucket. Like for me self care is taking care of your nervous system throughout the day. And this is one of those just like, I'm gonna close my eyes. And now I think there, if that came up, there would be a lot of guilt. There would be a lot of other feelings coming up around like, am I supposed to be engaging with my kid, am I supposed to be entertaining them? If, and the reality was she would open her eyes back up and like, yes, the living room was a mess. Or we have then turned this place into some sort of play situation with every blanket that exists in the house now out. And those are parts of this, right? That like there has to be a little give and take, which really means us relinquishing some control.

Meredith Krimmel (16:12):

I love that you talk about modeling self care on your Instagram and things like that. But you also, you talk about modeling how like in conflict and problem solving, you talked about this, like, I'm, I'm gonna take a few breaths or, you know, even labeling our emotions, you know, it's okay to have these emotions. I have these emotions too. And you do a really nice job of that on your Instagram. You know, of reminding us, we need to tell our kids, you know, they're not unique in, in feeling these ways. We feel worried. We feel mad, we feel sad or disappointed.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (16:43):

Yeah. Well, and they're not failing for feeling that. And neither are you as an adult, like feeling mad at your child or feeling annoyed at them or feeling frustrated or feeling disappointed,, or feeling embarrassed. Those aren't things that need to be fixed they're feelings and they won't be here forever. And it's okay if they stay for now, cause they won't be here forever. It's how all feelings work. And it's so much of doing this work, involves modeling this and doing this work with ourselves because so many of us grew up in with societal norms or in a culture where we weren't supposed to feel the hard stuff or there wasn't a safe space for us to express our hard stuff without somebody fixing it or trying to make it go away or silence it. And so a lot of us, myself included, have to start with allowing ourselves to feel without trying to fix those feelings. And actually when we, we have two courses, we have tiny and big emotions which focuses on the tiny humans. And then we have our reparenting course and we sell them as a bundle because we were finding at the beginning when they were separate, people would buy the tiny and big emotions one and go through it and be like, great. But like I can't do that in the moment. <Laugh> and I'm losing my cool and that's so common. And so now that you can buy them as a bundle because it's so key that we're doing this work for ourselves alongside doing this work for the tiny,

Stephanie Landis (18:04):

You just spoke about like giving them space instead of trying, trying to like fix it or gloss over it. I think one of my favorite things is when you're like try this instead of that. And one that really spoke to me was empty positivity versus validation. Can you talk a little bit about the differences and why you're gonna validate instead of being quick to rush and pick up a crime child and be like, it's okay. It's okay. Or, oh, you're fine. Like that scrape didn't really hurt. Totally. Can you talk about why that's empty positivity?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (18:35):

Yeah, for sure. So it makes sense to do that for two reasons. One, our nervous system's gonna fire off of theirs, right? So if they fall down, they get hurt. They're crying. Our nervous system is going to then fire as well, and we're gonna get dysregulated and it's our job to get calm for them, not their job to get calm for us. And we often see this in the reverse where we're trying to calm a kid down so that they're calm so that we can get calm. And we wanna start with us at regulating our nervous system so that we can co-regulate with them. But it makes total sense from a neuroscience perspective that we are designed to say like, I need you to get calm because my nervous system's firing. And if you were calm, I would be calm. So you're not even thinking about that. Those thoughts aren't necessarily actively going through your head. It's your reaction. And then the other part is that social programming of like, there are parts of you there's gonna come up that are reacting in the same way or a similar way, or in response to a way that you were raised and that you experienced, maybe I say this all the time, but like I will open my mouth and my mom will come out. And I'm like, oh man, whoa, like that brings me up. I could for sure, like hear of words as a tiny human and I don't necessarily wanna repeat all of them, but they're a part of me. And so again, that first step is being able to regulate ourselves to do that differently. But when we do jump in with like really trying to get them calm or to brush off their feelings, that's the root of it. And it doesn't hold space for them. It doesn't let them know it is okay to feel this thing. We're saying like, oh yeah, I get that. You're feeling it. And I need it to stop. And what we wanna do is they're like, yeah, I get that. And it makes total sense. And I'm here if you need support. There is a huge push within the parenting community right now to allow feelings, which is awesome. And I think what's often lacking is when do we step in to offer that nervous system support? When do we help them calm their nervous system without brushing them outta it? And where, what we were looking at in, in our research was that the coping component was, seemed to be the biggest gap and the hardest both on the teacher and parent side. And it is a hard balance to strike, to be able to like, say like I'm here, when you're ready to feel calm or to help build those coping strategies without trying to rush that feeling away of like, what do you need? What are you gonna do to help your body feel calm? Like nothing, right now I'm gonna cry because what my body needs and being able to find that balance. And so what we say, we have a free emotion coaching guide too. That really goes through this. If people are interested in that it's emotion, coaching guide, super creative, just right straight forward there. And it's totally free. People can snag that, but it'll guide you through the steps to take when a kid is expressing a big emotion and we have a section in there as it says, like if you offer coping and you talk about like, how can I help your body feel calm? And they are not ready for it. Now that's pretty clear or they'll push away or they won't be receptive to coping strategies. It's their way of saying I'm not ready for coping at which point, then I wanna let them know that, okay, Hey babe, I can tell that your body needs to cry a little bit more. I'm going to be here. I'm gonna be in the living room or I'm gonna be in the kitchen when you need help. Or if you need help feeling calm so that they were giving them, then that space to express or to feel for a lot of kiddos, you standing near them or being near them can be dysregulating. What they, there can be this feeling of like, I need, I'm supposed to get calm because she's standing here waiting for me to get there. And so for a lot of our kiddos, we noticed this in the research, giving that space was huge and just letting them know where you'll be and that they're not in trouble. It's not like I'm putting you in a time out to feel. I'm just letting you know where I'll be when you're ready, so that you can have time and space to express.

Meredith Krimmel (22:45):

Do you have any suggestions for those kiddos who might, they might be dysregulated by your presence when they're really upset or frustrated, but they also don't wanna be alone. They also say, don't leave me. Don't leave me. Don't leave me. How do you balance that? Or do you have any suggestions for that?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (23:01):

Yeah. So in that case, I want to set boundaries around how they can express in all cases, I wanna set boundaries, but in those, we might see that they're hitting or they're using our body cause their body's dysregulated doesn't know else to do in the moment. If that is the case, I wanna try and get some protive input. They will often resist at first and then they will calm. So it could look like a deep bear hug or finding something that they can curl up into like a burrito roll up, we call them or you'll like roll them up into a blanket. We have a lot of people use like a hammock or some sort of enclosure type thing for a kiddo to be able to get that input. And letting them know like, I will be right here. I won't like hurt my body. I can give you a snuggle. A lot of these things I wanna talk about about most of them outside of the moment, and then you're bringing them into the moment. I'm never gonna introduce something new when your body's dysregulated. They're truly like, this is a thing we see, in school a lot, but if a child is dysregulated and they don't have tools to calm their nervous system, they cannot retain content. Right. Your brain is just going to keep filtering that through and same with like anything new. So if I'm looking at coping strategies, I'm not going to be introducing them in the moment I'm gonna do this work and talking about it outside of the moment, talking about my own, modeling that, and then we're bringing it into the moment.

Meredith Krimmel (24:30):

So in that kinda situation, out of the moment, you might say something like when you're feeling really disappointed or frustrated and upset, would you like, you know, would you give them options? Would you like a hug or would you like me to wrap you in a blanket? Or do you talk to them about those kind of strategies specifically out of the moment?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (24:47):

Yeah. And I'm actually just gonna say like, man, you know, when you, when our bodies feel something really big and it's coming out of our body and we feel like we can't even control it, like sometimes for me it looks like I'm yelling or my heart's beating so fast and I can't even focus on what I'm doing or I might wanna hit or kick. I'm gonna put it on me and not just on them of like, this happens for me too. There are things that we can do to help our body feel safe and calm. And some of those things are looking for a hug or the burrito roll up or like going through sometimes if I do 10 big jumps or if I run down and I touch the bedroom door and I run back, it helps my body feel calmer, just going through these with them and then bringing them into this. Like what helps your body when it's feeling too big, when that's so big that it's coming out and your body wants to hit or to kick or to yell, what helps your body feel calm? And then pausing and they might not know. And then I would say like, we could try something next time. Would you like to try maybe a hug or some big jump? And then in the moment I would present too, we use visual aids for this because in the moment you notice as an SLP pulling in language and being able to produce language is near impossible. And so we use visual aids to present them with this, just like stop sign is always the same color, even though it says stop it's that same color and shape because our brain's gonna recognize that symbol before it reads that word. And so I wanna present them with two visuals that are options for them, for them to be able to grab, or they don't have to produce language. They don't have to hear my language. They know this is hug and this is big jump. And then as they get older, we have a coping strategies board that we'll use where there might be like six or eight on there, but they can grab a card. And when we researched the set method, we used these visuals with kiddos as young as four months. And by nine months, those kiddos could grab a visual and give it to us.

Meredith Krimmel (26:44):

Wow. I love that you take it off of them and, and come from you. I mean, another way of modeling that we all feel this way, just a really great way. And it takes, it takes any defensiveness out of it. Right?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (26:56):

Totally. And I mean, even with adults, when I'm going into work with adults, I'm not like, let me tell you that all the way you are messing up and I'm gonna be over as a little perfect human in front of you. No, I'm going to let you know all the things that happened for me too. And I get that and I wanna work together on them.

Stephanie Landis (27:13):

Do you role play some of these, like when they're happy, will you practice going through some of these strategies?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (27:20):

Yeah. Sometimes we'll do roleplay. I like to really use books. Or if we're like in the general public and there's a kid crying, I'm like, oh, I hear that. I wonder what they're feeling. Hmm. I wonder what could help their body feel safe or to feel calm and bringing those things into their, or when we're reading a book. And I see like a kid sitting by themselves, it looks like they're feeling lonely. I see that their body's scrunched up and they have a tear coming down their face and they're by themselves. And I wonder what would help them feel included just going through those things in the moment and when we can see it in other people, we start to fill that toolbox for ourselves at the same time.

Stephanie Landis (28:03):

Like that. One of the things that comes with both like deeper language learning and even more specifically with social and emotional and sensory regulation is that it takes a long time. It's not quite like quick fixes. Do you have any like, words of encouragement of like, you know, we've tried hide this for like a week, two weeks. We've read these stories three times and it's still not happening. Do you have any words of encouragement or like how long you think these strategies will take before they start to be effective?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (28:39):

Yeah. Yeah. So we don't read to babies, expecting them to read back to us, right? We have in our head, this set of expectations, you're not like I'm gonna not read to them until they're five and then we'll start reading things. No, we start really early on. We're not expecting them though to produce that language and to read back to us and to, we have a set of expectations around this, which I think is really huge. And our set of expectations around sensory and emotional development can often be skewed. And what I have found is that our expectations for infants and toddlers are very low, very low. And then all of a sudden, once they're three or four or beyond, we have elevated expectations for skillsets we did not help them build, and we just expect them to have it. And it's not like walking where most kids will walk, whether we support them with motor development or not, their body's designed to move, plus there's an underlying challenge. That's not how emotional development works. It's not how sensory regulation works. It starts with awareness first. And so these things have to be taight. Otherwise what we'll do is adapt coping mechanism to numb our nervous system because we can't take it anymore. And we all have coping mechanisms and coping strategies, hopefully in our toolbox, the mechanisms numb and the strategies help us process. And if we aren't building strategy, we will turn to mechanisms. And this can look like the other day I was fried at the end of the day and I just started scrolling the phone. And all of a sudden I'm like 45 minutes into scrolling and I didn't even notice. And of course they then up come the like whole to-do list that I didn't do while I was scrolling. Right. All the other things <laugh>. And really what I was doing was numbing the exhaustion of that day and the feelings that had come up and everything. I didn't have the energy to process in the moment I was numbing. And that's fine. We're going to have some of that. And nobody is only working with strategies. But we wanna make sure we're building those strategies. And so for a timeline, if we are working with this consistently from the beginning, from early infancy, then yeah, we will start to see them have some strategies as they're going into like being a one year old. Most humans that show up to do this work are doing it when kiddos are toddlers or three or et cetera, where we're like, why don't they have these tools? They're still throwing their bodies, they're melting, or now they're throwing their body in danger. And when we're starting at that point, we have to have the expectation that it's still going to take six months a year of consistently doing this in order to start to see real results in the same way that we as adults. It's like January 1st, where we get there and everyone's like, I'm gonna overhaul my life. I'm gonna do all, all these things differently. And then it lasts for like three weeks and you're like, that was too much. And I'm back to my old habit. It takes a while to build new habits, the older we get. And we were talking about that neuroplasticity earlier, the longer you have a habit in place, the harder it is to change it, it doesn't mean it's impossible, but it gets harder to do so. And so if a kiddo right now, every time they feel disappointment, they yell at somebody else or they express in a big voice. Then that's that habit that's been going on for them say for six years, it's not going to tomorrow be different. It's going to take consistency. And really we're looking at if you're not seeing big changes in like six months, if they're under the age of eight, then I wanna look at like, all right, what's going on for a nervous system regulation. Are there some things that we haven't figured out, their unique nervous system, et cetera. And definitely by a year into this work we have a membership program and we offer an annual plan for that reason that like, if we're doing this consistently for a year, you should start to see big results.

Meredith Krimmel (32:53):

A child with anxiety or diagnosed with anxiety or suspected anxiety. Would, would you say the same things? Would you do the same process and would, would six months be the timeframe that you were looking about reevaluating what you're doing?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (33:09):

Yeah. So anxiety is such hot button issue. It's never been higher in kids and it's never been higher in parents than it's today. Be a, are not unrelated. And there was a cool research study out of Yale in 2019 that looked at anxiety in kiddos, and it looked at therapy kids, it looked at medication for kids, and it looked at teaching parents how to respond in the moment to these emotions,. Overwhelmingly teaching parents how to respond in the moment, one over for long term success with reducing anxiety. And the key here came to the, the allowing and coping. What they found was that often when a child would experience fear, anxiety, is it, it this big fancy word for like being stuck in fear, fear is a normal emotion to experience. We should experience fear. It keeps us alive. When we're stuck in fear and we can't get out. That's what anxiety is. And it becomes a loop. And now it's playing into all these other things in our life. And so what it came down to was helping parents learn how to hold space for fear, without fixing it or trying to make it go away. And it starts in such little moments. It's like, my kid is afraid to go to bed at night and they think they are monsters under their bed. Yeah. It makes total sense to be scared. It's okay to be, I'm not going to take that fear away with a monster spray or something that makes them, makes it go away. It's all these little moments where we send messages to kids that experiencing fear isn't okay. And it's something to solve. And so when we truthfully get back to the basics of literally just allowing them to experience fear, which if we struggle with anxiety, then we have to start with ourselves, allowing ourselves to feel fear without fixing it without making it go away, truly getting down and dirty with allowing that to exist. It's hard work. And then we can tap into like what helps your body feel safe in the moment that is accessible to regulate your nervous system when you're ready? And this is another one of those tricky, like not solving it and having tools in your toolbox to regulate. So once we feel safe, I'm not gonna change the situation. So the kid who is scared to go to bed cause they're afraid there are monsters in their room. I'm gonna teach them tools to regulate their nervous system so they can regain access to their whole brain. Because when you're experiencing fear, you're in that fight flight freeze or calm mode that a amygdala and you can't access your whole brain. They're isnt rational thoughts happening now. And so I see it as my job to help them regain that access so that they can be back into a space where they know that they're safe in this room and there aren't monsters under their bed, or what the key here for me is I'm not taking it away. I'm not saying like I get rid of the monsters. I'm saying I will help you regulate your nervous system so that you know what to do if you're feeling fear, you don't get stuck in it. And you can get back to a place where you can access your whole brain. This happens for adults. The other day, went in to see my little dude at like 2:00 AM, not a super rational thought time. And I go in, in the middle of the night and I smell a skunk. I can like smell this. And in the middle of the night, I'm immediately like there's a skunk in his room. It would be near impossible for a skunk to get into our house and into his room, out of all the doors, the skunk would have to navigate. And, but in my head at 2:00 AM, I'm like, that's it, there's a skunk in his room and fully going into like, not putting my feet on the floor as I'm in the glider. And I'm trying to nurse, but don't have a letdown because my body's like in full, you have to fight a skunk mode and you're trapped in this room with a baby and you have to black out. So it's really dark. You can't even see this skunk. You can just smell it it, but it can see you because it's an animal, whatever I'm going through this whole thing in the middle of the night and truly had to be like, okay, maybe there's a skunk in this room. How can you calm your body, literally to go so that I could come up with a plan if there was a skunk in the room and nurse my child thankful for his patients in the meantime, <laugh> he was like, I'm doing all my work here mom. And you're bringing nothing to the table. <Laugh> and eventually like I calmed was able to be like, okay, there's a window in his room. It's on the ground floor, probably a skunk outside. We live near the woods that would make total sense and we can smell it in here. Is there anything I need to do about this smell? Like could get back to a rational place to like go through these steps, but it happens to us all the time. Again, we're designed to feel fear and we need tools to not get stuck in it.

Meredith Krimmel (38:15):

What about for those kiddos? Who, who like really can't verbalize what the fear is? You know, the examples you gave you, you knew what the root of the fear was. Do you have any tips or tricks figure out, you know, how do you get to the root of the issue?

Alyssa Blask Campbell (38:28):

You don't have to know what you're scared about. What you do need to know is what it feels like in your body to feel scared and where you feel it and how you feel it so that you can start to build awareness of that. Like, Ooh, my chest is tight. My heart is racing. My hands are sweaty. Usually when I feel that I'm feeling scared. And so here are things that I can do to help my body feel safe. You don't really have to know what you're feeling or what's causing it. We can go through that later a little bit. Like with them, once they are regulated and calm, like, man, I'm wondering if you were feeling nervous to go to school, they can probably access a lot more of that once they're regulated. I was just having this conversation with a six year old recently, and she had a tough entrance into school and I'm really close with her. And we were going through all this. I was like, what helps you feel safe when you're at school a lot. She was like, I don't know. And so I've just been crying a lot and I was like, yeah, that makes total sense. Also crying is normal and it's okay to cry and you don't have to stop crying. We can figure out places, you can cry at school where you feel comfortable and safe to do so. And we can figure out some others, things that help you feel safe and calm. If you'd like those, but once she was calm and could talk to me about it and regulated, then she would ended up telling me that she was scared to be at school because she was nervous that she would say something or do something. And other kids would make fun of her or laugh at her. She would make a mistake and the teacher would be disappointed. And we kept through these layers and getting down to like, she wanted to feel included and liked. And I was like, welcome to being human. Like that makes total sense. It's gonna come up the rest of your life. And it's totally normal. It's okay to feel that. And I was like, you know what, babe, I bet every kid in your classroom, also is a little nervous about feeling embarrassed sometimes, or that they might do something that disappoints a teacher and they wanna feel included too. And it's totally normal that you're feeling that. And when it comes up for you, here are some things that can help you calm, but we didn't get to that part of the conversation until we got through the, I don't know what to do. I just keep crying at school.

Stephanie Landis (40:38):

That's great. And I think it works for, we have so many kids on campus that just are really low in their language and their expressive language. And I think that gives a lot of comfort to parents that we don't have to know exactly what the bad thing they're feeling about is because it's not even about taking the bad thing away. It's about giving them tools to, to regulate when they are feeling upset and finding ways to help them feel calm, to work through it.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (41:06):

Yeah. Yeah. Calm and safer. My it's very comforting. Yeah. For sure. You don't have, you don't have to know it's same with it. As an adult, you don't have to know what you're feeling or why you're feeling it. So many people will come to us and like, well, I keep feeling X, Y, and Z. And I don't know why it's coming up and we can dive into the parts, work in a regulated state. But right now it doesn't really matter. What I want you to have is a toolbox for how to feel calmer, safe. And before having that toolbox, you have to have awareness for when you're feeling it, which for kiddos is like really coming back to that, what we call interceptive sensory system, which is a sensory system that's often left off the table, but it's connecting what's happening in your body to what you're feeling. We think of this as like butterflies in your stomach where we identify, we know we say that and people like can know that feeling. You can feel that in your gut and you know, that it means you're feeling nervous or it might mean you're feeling excited. We can pair emotions with that. And I wanna help kiddos do that with other emotions. What does it feel like when you're feeling scared? What does it feel like when you're feeling angry? What does it feel like when you're feeling disappointed? And it's okay if it's the same feeling for a lot, or like same internal feelings for a lot of emotions. What we want them to know is like, Ooh, my chest is tight. Now I have a little signal going off in my brain that I'm having a hard feeling and I might need some tools to help me feel safer, to feel calm.

Meredith Krimmel (42:31):

You have a website, you have a podcast, you have so many resources, you have training. And your Instagram is just parenting gold. So anyone listening, I hope that they'll just follow you, at least on Instagram. You do these beautiful infographics that give, you know, in instead of this, try this, or when you say this, they hear this. And it's just a real concrete way for people to make some positive changes in their home with their children.

Meredith Krimmel (42:56):

Yeah. Go on over to the Instagram. And the one thing with the, instead of this, try this, that I just wanna note, I, it's never intended as a thing of shame. Like if you're in all of the, instead of this side, also welcome to being human. So many of us are, and I can sit here in a regulated state with my like nerdy hat on and tell you all these things and then go have an argument with my husband where I'm not perfect. Right? Like that is also the reality is that no, one's doing this quote unquote right a hundred percent of the time and you don't have to the goal. Isn't perfect. And it's that we can learn to navigate repair that we're gonna rupture within our relationships. We're gonna drop the ball. We're gonna make mistakes. And we get to model that for our kids and how to come back together,

Stephanie Landis (43:44):

Man, at the end of every podcast, we ask people, if you had one piece of advice, what would it be? There you go. I feel like what you just said is like perfectly encapsulates that like you, yeah. I love that. So you jump straight to it without us having to wrap it up or ask <laugh>,

Meredith Krimmel (44:01):

She's not good.

Stephanie Landis (44:04):

No, it's even, that's the disclaimer that we need on life right now. You do have any other last piece of advice and it could be on the same topic or something completely different that you wanna give or happy to hear it.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (44:18):

I think probably folks have had a lot of advice and things come their way in this podcast and some will leave it at that, but really you're doing enough. These are just helpful tips along the way. Yeah.

Stephanie Landis (44:31):

All right. Thank you.

Meredith Krimmel (44:32):

Yeah. Thanks for, for coming and, and doing this.

Alyssa Blask Campbell (44:35):

Yeah, totally. Thanks for having me.

Meredith Krimmel (44:42):

Thank you for listening to the unabled podcast. For more information on today's episode, please see our episode description for more information on The Parish chool, visit parishschool.org. If you're not already, don't forget to subscribe to the UN babbled podcast on your app choice. And if you like what you're hearing, be sure to leave a rating and review a special thank you to STIG Daniels, Andy Williams, Patty Henson and Molly Weisselberg for all their hard work behind the scenes. Thanks again for listening.