A Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids with Dayna Abraham

00:00:01    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village, and I don't know about you, but I have found myself looking at parenting advice or tips or accounts or things like that, and being like, okay, that sounds great, but my child would not respond to that. That wouldn't work for them. You know that I am not here for a one -size -fits -all approach, which is why Dayna Abraham's book, "Calm the Chaos, A Fail-Proof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids" is so darn helpful. 


00:00:54    Alyssa

I was actually recently in a Facebook group for parents that I'm a part of for my local community, and someone was recommending this book, and I was like, yes, yes, yes, this is so good. Calm the Chaos, and it really helps you dive in. We got to have this discussion around neurodivergence and really looking at what does that mean and what does it look like, and what would it look like for us to really understand how our own nervous system works, how our kids' nervous systems work, and then what makes them tick, what fires them up, what helps them engage in certain things, what pulls them away and disconnects them from things, what puts them into fight mode, when we can understand these things, then we can respond with intention, and I'm so, so glad. This is one of those episodes that when I was recording it, I was like, we could've talked forever. We were having a blast and cut from the same cloth. One of her core messages that I just dig so much is that your child isn't broken, and she helps you really understand your unique child, so y 'all, let's just get into this. Let's dive in. 


00:02:06    Alyssa

Hey there. I'm Alyssa Blask Campbell. I'm a mom with a Master's degree in Early Childhood Education and co-creator of the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. I'm here to walk alongside you through the messy, vulnerable parts of being humans, raising other humans with deep thoughts and actionable tips. Let's dive in together.


00:02:34    Alyssa

Hello, everyone. Welcome back to Voices of Your Village podcast. Today, I get to hang out with Dayna Abraham. She's the best -selling author of "The Super Kids Activity Guide to Conquering Every Day". And "Sensory Processing 101". And she has a new book out. Her latest book is "Calm the Chaos, a Fail -Proof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids". And I got an early copy, got to dive in. And I'm so jazzed because we get questions all the time about how to parent neurodivergent children. And what does this look like when you have ADHD as an adult? I think a lot of adults are finding themselves in this category. A lot more than maybe we're even diagnosed as kids and are saying like, oh man, I resonate with a lot of this. And now what? Through her compassionate framework, "Calm the Chaos", she has helped millions of desperate parents around the world find peace and meet their children where they're at when conventional parenting tools failed them. I'm super jazzed to get to hang out with you and get nerdy today, Dayna. 


00:03:44    Dayna

Me too. I feel like every time we hop on, it's like, da -da -da -da -da -da -da -da. So excited. 


00:03:51    Alyssa

So easy to chat, yeah. And I'm like, pause, let's have the conversation on the pod. That's rad. Your book came in and immediately, once I shared it on social, someone very close in my life was like, actually, do you have a copy and can I read that? I was like, yes and yes. And I think that a lot of people are finding themselves in that of like, okay, wait, I think something that's so specific to your book that's so helpful is this focus on raising neurodivergent children. And my friend who asked was like reading the back cover. And I think there's like five words mentioned at the beginning are like, if you have a strong -willed, persistent, whatever. It was like, she was like, oh, my child was just listed off in these five words. Like, yes, doesn't respond to what other things work with other kids, et cetera. And this is a book we need. We need to be able to talk about not just this, like one of my biggest pet peeves in the parenting world is when things are presented as a one -size -fits -all. And I think that this is a part of our culture that needs to shift, not just in parenting, but specifically in education. It's not one -size -fits -all. But we do approach this, I think education, parenting, et cetera, with this framework of like, okay, this is how you do it. Not who is the child in front of me? What are their needs? How does their body work? And then how do we do it? We're like, no, this is how we do it. This is the curriculum. This is how I teach. This is the whatever. And I think we need to take pause for a minute and get curious. 


00:05:34    Dayna

Yeah. I think that that kind of the concept behind "Calm the Chaos" is this idea that one, parents, teachers, we have a lot of background knowledge. We have experiences that we're bringing to the table. And a lot of advice out there kind of says, forget everything you've ever learned and try this one thing. And then on the flip side, you have parents who have been burned so much by advice and it hasn't worked that then they say, okay, it must just be intuition or it must be, I must have to go and get a PhD in figuring out my kid. And so then they're overwhelmed. And so I wanted these kind of guide rails of here are some, I hate to call them best practices because that assumes that it's this one size fits all, but it's here's the science behind how humans work and how our bodies work and how our brains work and how communication can be best suited for others and relationships work. And then taking those concepts and then saying, here's how to adapt it with your unique situation and your unique family. I think that that's far more empowering and powerful than here's this one magic button and it's gonna solve all and fix all. 


00:06:53    Alyssa

Yeah. And then when it doesn't work, you're gonna feel like you're failing or that your kid is broken, right? And like, oh man, I get fired up about this. We were asked in our book to put in a bunch of scripts and like, what do you say? What do you do in the moment? And we put some in every single time with the caveat of this phrase will work for some kids and not for others. This one might be better suited for others. And you could say this all day, but if you don't mean it and if inside your insides are still saying, gosh, this kid is annoying or what a dramatic response, then you can say all the right words all day long and it will have the same impact that your authentic self is way more impactful. 


00:07:40    Dayna

Yes, yes. And I always say like, especially our kids who don't fit the mold, our kids that are pushing against all of the limits and the lines that we're putting out there, they are big feelers and they can sense other people's feelings and other people's kind of emotions that are under the surface, like you're saying. So even if you'd never say it to your kid, my kid is such a brat or they're so manipulative or they're just so controlling. I heard someone yesterday, I was working with a parent. She's like, they're just so entitled. And like, if you truly believe that they are entitled, then all your actions, all your reactions, all your responses are gonna have this tinge of, you're so entitled and your child's gonna read that and they're gonna be responding to what they're feeling, not necessarily what you're saying. 


00:08:34    Alyssa

Totally. And they are going to inside start to feel that. 


00:08:38    Dayna

They're gonna start to believe it, 100 % I have a video on social and it's gone viral. It's had over a million views and it's a video, did an exercise with the children in our program where I said, write out a word that you have either been called or you feel like people, adults in your life have called you. And they all wrote out these words, like lazy, dumb, weird, rude, destructive, aggressive and annoying, all these words. And then I said, okay, I want you to rip that up and I want you to write a new word of who you really are, who you want the world to see. And so they wrote these other words and fierce and creative and outgoing and outspoken and all these things. And on the video, I get all these comments that say, this is terrible. Who would ever call children this? And the thing is, is these children weren't made to write these words down. They were asked, how do you feel? Or what are words that you believe about yourself because of the way you're treated, the way that people interact with you? And it was about adults. And I think inadvertently as adults, we walk through life and we don't realize how some of the things we're saying, some of the things we're doing, leave children feeling like there is a piece of them that is somehow bad. 


00:10:08    Alyssa

A hundred percent. And I think that's a really good point that it's not necessarily adults over and over saying, you're lazy, you're lazy, you're lazy. It's all the other things that add up to, you're lazy. And that's my belief about you and your actions, who you are. I think one of my biggest pet peeves is when adults talk about kids in front of kids. And I think there should absolutely be spaces for adults to talk about kids. I think we need spaces to process. I think we need to be able to turn to our friend group and be like, oh my God, she's being so dramatic today. And have that vulnerability where we are assigning those labels and that's what's coming up for us first. And then hopefully having a friend who on the other end is like, oh yeah, that's so hard. And eventually can get you to the place of like, I wonder what's going on for her. But can meet you there of like, oh my gosh, yes. Rather than jumping right in and being like, well, is she being dramatic? But I can really meet you there and be your friend in it. I don't think any of those conversations should happen within earshot or in front of a child. And I think sometimes we think we're being like crafty about it, we're like whispering over here, like they're over there. And they hear and they pick up on all of this and it becomes their inner narrative. 


00:11:27    Dayna

It does. And I'll say I have parents who have never said it out loud to anyone, but it's so deep rooted, that belief that they're disrespectful, that they don't care about them, that they are entitled, that they are bratty, that they're dramatic, they're over the top. And it comes through in the way that they respond to their kids. And so in the book, I actually talk about that, yeah, it's very human for you to have these thoughts and feelings and reactions. Totally. And also having a process where you can process those feelings. Like you said, in a community, if you don't have a community, I talk about something called set a timer, where when those emotions are boiling up, you go and you set a timer and you get it all out of your head. And with the sole purpose of not venting, but at the end, being able to swap and being able to find a next step so that you aren't holding onto those feelings forever, that you are getting them out. And you're saying, okay, ooh, that was kind of nasty. Like, I didn't know that was sitting down in there. Like, all right, I'm ready to address this now. How can I move past this feeling? Where's this feeling coming from? Oh, it's because I wasn't heard as a kid. Oh, it's because I was told my emotions were too much as a kid. Oh, it's because when I acted that way, I was ostracized and I didn't have any friends. I don't want that for my kid. So a lot of times it's coming from this fear or this worry or concern for our kids, but we have to first realize it even sits in there. 


00:13:02    Alyssa

100%, absolutely. And I think when we're looking at neurodivergence, the pod is, this is not the first time they've heard this, but this is something I actually kind of despise is this focus on neurotypical versus neurodivergent kids. And I'm like, wouldn't it be so much more beneficial to just look and say like, hey, here's how the nervous system works. Let's figure out what everyone's sensitive to, what they're seeking, how their brain learns, and have individualized education and approaches for each kid. And not that that means like every single kid has something so unique to them, because the reality is we tend to fall into kind of like clusters, but being able to say like, rather than here's the way it's supposed to be. And then if you don't fall into this, here's some other options. 


00:13:54    Dayna

Yeah, and we were talking about this right before we got on the pod. And that's one of the things that has been asked of me as I've put this book out into the world is when you don't have a child who is "neurodivergent", right? They have a specific diagnosis. You have really struggled to get your kid the supports they need. You've struggled to understand your kid. And so you've gone down that rabbit trail of trying to understand your kid. And you've realized, oh, there's some ADHD or there's some autism, or there's some anxiety or some sensory processing, all these different things. Unless you've been down that path, you see the world as quote unquote neurotypical. There is this one way, and anything that veers from this one way must be wrong or broken or bad. And so I've been getting a lot of questions of what is neurodivergent? And when we look at the root of it, it really is this belief that there are different brains. There is diversity in the way that our brains are created and our nervous systems, and the way that we respond and react to the world around us. And just like there is diversity in culture and race and in families and all sorts of different ways that we have recognized that there's diversity, now let's recognize that we're humans and there's no two humans that are alike. And so I agree with you. If we could spread the education and the knowledge that we are all unique individuals and therefore require that compassion and understanding and that ability to be in tune with what each child needs, then we would have a much more understanding, accepting world and kids and adults would be far more successful. Like I can't go on an airplane without notating like 15 people that are struggling with their sensory needs. 


00:15:48    Alyssa



00:15:48    Dayna

You know, and be like, oh, look at that. Oh, look at that. You know, and just recently there was a guy who really struggled because a baby was crying. And I was like, oh, that poor guy, like he feels unsafe. He feels unheard and his sensory system is on overload, but nobody's told him that his entire life. And so now he has no way of coping, no way of sharing. And no one on that plane knows what to do either with him. They just assume he's being like this big, bad, mean man and it's coming from somewhere, right? It's not excusing it, but there is a reason why he was struggling, just like there was a reason the baby was struggling. 


00:16:24    Alyssa

And if we presented the nervous system as such, then I think there would be more compassion, understanding. And like you said, like adults and kids would be able to thrive in a way that we don't provide right now. For instance, we have a local museum here, a science museum, that's incredible. They had reached out and they wanted to partner. They were like, hey, we know what we know and we know that there's a lot we don't know and we want some help. And so we've been working with them. They had, when you come in, if you know to ask and you've gone to the specific space on the website to find out that you can ask, you can ask for a sensory bag for your child and it has some accommodations within it. Has headphones, has some fidget toys, things like that. And so I was like, let's start here. What's your goal with these bags? Is it to say like most people don't need them? And if your kid has sensory needs then this whole bag will be applicable, right? Because we know that that's not true. That a lot of kids might benefit and adults from certain things within that bag and let's expand what's in the bag. So my first suggestion was like, can we just provide it as like, hey, this museum has all these things going on. It's loud. There's a lot of people around. There are all these different exhibits, et cetera. And here's what to expect from them. Here are spaces that are calmer. If anyone needs to take a break and decrease some stimuli, have a break from the noise or have a break from all the things going on around them. Here's some things we have that if it's helpful for your kid to, if they're sensitive to sounds, if that really adds up for them, they can wear a pair of headphones. If you are sensitive to sounds, you can wear a pair of headphones. If your kid benefits from having big body play and getting that deep pressure, we have some backpacks they can wear around the museum that have a little bit of weight to them. And you can adjust based on your kid's size. Like what would it look like if we just presented this as everybody has a nervous system and we all have needs like the guy on the airplane. Maybe he doesn't qualify for services as a kid. Maybe he's never had an IEP and he's sound sensitive. Like all that could be true. And what if we just presented that as like, yeah, some people are sound sensitive and the sound of that crying baby sends their nervous system into overdrive. He's not failing. He's not doing anything wrong. The baby isn't doing anything wrong. This is his nervous system reaction. And here are supports that will help him so that the baby can still be a baby. 


00:19:09    Dayna

Yes, absolutely. I mean, you are getting riled up about something that I get riled up all the time because people will ask me, for the longest time I've struggled with how to describe what I do and who I help because there are a lot of people that don't know what neurodivergent means. And then there are also a lot of people who are just raising kids that will never, they wouldn't ever qualify for services. They wouldn't ever have gone so far outside of the quote unquote norm that they would seek outside help, but yet their child is struggling. And I think that I was one of those kids growing up. I was not ever diagnosed with anything. I never got outside services. And yet my mom and I had a volatile relationship. We were so absolutely different from each other. And she wanted so badly for herself to fit in, for me to then fit in. And so since I'm such a like loud, very like I'll push back if I don't believe in something, I will speak up if I don't believe in something. I also was constantly touching and chewing on things. I didn't know anything about sensory growing up, but I would chew all my pencils and I even like would chew on a desk. And then I would always like rub my legs and I would look down when my mom wanted to talk to me. And she would say, you need to look at me when you're talking to me. And I couldn't look at her when I was talking to her. And I didn't read a book until I was a junior in college. I got straight A's and I graduated with honors and got paid to go to college, but never read a book all the way until junior high or junior of college. How did no one figure that out, right? And no one shared that this was normal. This was like "very common". I'm not gonna say normal because it falls outside of the range of normal. And so as an adult, I struggled to keep friends because out of sight, out of mind. I struggled with relationships because really high emotions. And then I would just crash. Now it's like, oh, look at that. I was undiagnosed ADHD all along, but it doesn't matter about the diagnosis per se. What matters is that I needed to feel seen and heard and understood, and I needed to understand my own body so that I could advocate for myself. And I could say, these are the systems that work for me. These are the things that I need. So right before we got on here, I told you a couple of things about how I present that I struggle with word retrieval. So I was like, just so you know, I might struggle to bring up a specific word or something like that. And I've just learned that it reduces my anxiety if I can share those things about myself, I can advocate. And I just think, what if we taught all our kids that? What if we empowered parents to be experts in their kids so that they can empower their kids to be experts in themselves? And that's what I really think is powerful.


00:24:37    Alyssa

[AD] I don't know about you, but when I scroll through Instagram or I'm tuning into podcasts and diving into parenting resources, resources for myself as a teacher, I can feel overwhelmed. Like, where do I start? I need a guide for what this looks like in practice. And I don't want something that's one size fits all. Because every child is different, right? And if you have multiple children, if you're a teacher, you know that it's not one size fits all. Or if you have seen what works for your sister in law or your best friend or your neighbor, and you're like, oh my gosh, my child does not respond to that. That is how I felt. And then we created the Collaborative Emotion Processing method. It is a guide for building emotional intelligence. And y'all there are five components of the CEP method. One is about how to respond to the kids and what it looks like to have adult/child interactions. The other four are about us. Because I don't know about you, but I did not grow up getting these tools. I did not grow up with them.  didn't grow up in this household. Where I was taught tools for self awareness and self regulation and how to do emotion processing work. And now, as a parent and as a teacher, I'm supposed to teach those skills to a tiny human? But we can't teach what we don't know. And so my first book, Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, is here to support you. You can head to www.seedandsew.org/book and snag Tiny Humans, Big Emotions today. This is a game changer. It's going to build these skills with you, for you, so that you can do this work alongside building these skills for your tiny humans, so that they can grow up with a skill set for self awareness, for regulation, for empathy, for social skills, for intrinsic motivation. A skill set of emotional intelligence so that they can navigate all the things that come their way in life. Snag Tiny Humans, Big Emotions at seedandsew.org/book.  


00:24:38    Alyssa

What if we started with empowering parents to be experts in themselves? 


00:24:42    Dayna

A hundred percent. 


00:24:43    Alyssa

So that when they're overstimulated, when they're touched out, when the sound of my child's very annoying Thomas train clicking against a wall makes me want to throw it out a window, I don't feel like I'm feeling as a parent or that I'm supposed to be more patient or that somebody else would be calm in this moment that I know like, oh yeah, you're sound sensitive. That makes sense that that sound is driving you bonkers. You can't focus on a single other thing when that's happening, right? Like what if we just empowered everyone to understand their nervous system, what they're sensitive to, what they're seeking, how their brain learns and didn't present it in this like in-group, out-group. 


00:25:30    Dayna

Yes, that you're normal, you're not normal. 


00:25:33    Alyssa



00:25:34    Dayna

And that is why the book is, you know, and my work is for, it's a fail-proof roadmap because I don't believe you're failing. I believe that, you know, you're learning along the way, especially if you're still reading and you're listening to podcasts and you're seeking out information, you are just gathering information that you can learn from and adjust from. And so that's what makes it fail -proof but then for parenting kids, and then it says even the most challenging kids only because it took raising an extremely challenging kid, one that pushed outside of all of the norms, one that was extremely sound sensitive, was extremely, you know, sensory seeking. It took a child that challenged everything I believed that pushed me to think differently and do differently to learn these things, but it applies to all of the children that we're raising and it applies to ourselves. And so, you know, I'm so glad that you're bringing this up because I haven't really gotten to talk a lot about this on other podcasts I've been on because a lot of people assume it's just for the kids who are struggling the most or that you're seeing those outward behaviors for. And I guarantee you, there are some kids that you're not gonna see any behaviors for, that they still need you to see them and to understand their sensory system and to understand their triggers and their likes and dislikes and how they operate in this world and help them create systems. 


00:27:09    Alyssa

Absolutely. And I think recognizing those nervous system reactions of like, we have the fight, flight, freeze, fawn responses and flee for a reason and that we don't always present with the same one, right? Like my child Sage has, was always called like an easy baby or a relatively easy or good kid. And I always wanna pop in the caveat of like, yeah, if we support his nervous system, like we do and have done since he was born a lot to support his nervous system. When we were at a wedding and he was three months old and my nephew who is three weeks younger than him was just like in his car seat to sleep inside at the wedding, Sage was sobbing anytime he was in that room and we had to rotate, taking turns, standing outside with him, bouncing him. Like it was too loud for him. That's not his jam. He's sound sensitive. He was never gonna be a kid that slept on the go or like with the lights on, like anything. But yeah, he presents as good or easy and his initial nervous system reaction, especially in a new space is usually to shut down. He'll freeze. And my husband has even said like, I don't think this is always gonna be helpful for him. Like if a kid's coming toward him or hits him, he freezes. He even started, like he was getting pushed for a span of time at childcare as a little other friend was learning some new skills and tools and Sage was often the target. And he just got to the point where he would be like a possum. He would yell no and the child wasn't listening. And so then he would lay down and just lay there. Honestly, kind of smart, like cool survival strategy. But that is his like go-to is often to freeze. And so it presents as easy because he's not fighting, he's not hitting back usually. And then there reaches a point he will, or if it's one of his safe people, he will, where he'll yell, he'll hit, he'll kick. And when people outside of us see it, they're like, I can't believe he just did that. And we're like, oh yeah, cause he feels safe with us and he's dysregulated. And it's not that this is a new behavior and this is who he is now, or this is a whatever. It's like, no, this is always who he is. When his nervous system hits a certain level, this is what comes out, just like for all of us. I don't turn to my husband, I'm like, you know what? I'm gonna be super sarcastic and rude and snippy right now just for funsies. Like, no, I'm a certain level of dysregulated. And that eventually when I get there, there's enough tapping, there's enough outside noise, there's enough mental load, like that adds up. And then bam, I'm so rude and snappy and sarcastic and not kind and not regulated. 


00:30:02    Dayna



00:30:02    Alyssa

And I think when we can see this across the board, it can help us have compassion, especially for the kids whose nervous system reaction is to fight, but that's the one that gets a bad rap societally. 


00:30:18    Dayna

A hundred percent. And 


00:30:18    Dayna

my daughter, I have three kids and I call it like their primary stress response. And there's different ones, but it's the one that kind of shows itself the most, like at the first - 


00:30:30    Alyssa

Like sages freeze. 


00:30:32    Dayna

Sage freezes. So my oldest fight, my middle shuts down and my youngest, she fawns and she will please till the end of time. And then she comes home and she has, she just like lets it all out. And she's really struggling so much so that last year she fell at recess and she hurt her arm. They went to the nurse and they checked it and they were like, oh, it looks like you're bruised, put some ice on it, go to the room. Found out it was about eight o 'clock at night. She goes, mom, it's really bad. It's hurt really bad. I don't know what's wrong. And so we take her to the emergency room the next, she says, I want to sleep. We take her to the room the next morning to get it checked. She had broken her wrist in two places. 


00:31:17    Alyssa

Oh, sweet girl. 


00:31:19    Dayna

Didn't tell anyone, didn't tell us. Held it all in. And so then when I'm at the school and I'm talking about how she holds all of this in and they're like, we don't see it. And I'm like, well, do you remember when she broke her arm? Like she didn't tell you that she broke her arm. And they're like, well, she raises her hand. She participates. And I said, well, let me ask you this. Does she ever raise her hand when her answer is wrong? Or does she ever raise her hand when she has a question? Her teacher stopped for a minute. No, she never does. She never ask any questions. She just knows the answers. And I'm like, no, she doesn't want, when she's stressed she's not going to ask for help. And so we had to create some non -verbal ways for her to be able to ask for help and some ways that she could leave the classroom as she was feeling those signs come up. But she's one of those kids that you would never ever expect. And then my middle, he shuts down and it takes a lot though. Like he, and it's when he's had teachers who are like, well, he is a great kid, but man, he just doesn't try. He's just lazy. And I'm like, or he's dyslexic and everything's really confusing for him. And he has to process it. And it takes him a lot longer to process information. And that teacher, he would just shut down for her. He would just sit in the chair and refuse to do anything. Now, my oldest is a fight response. Like he is the one who got kicked out of multiple schools. He is, I was talking to a friend last night and she's got a 10 year old. And she's like, I'm so frustrated because my son, his stress response is that he fights. And so there's a school that is, understands like sensory needs and understands the nervous system and understands different learning styles and understands autism and all these things. And I said, have you checked out that school? And she said, no, because he has a history of aggression. And if he has a history of aggression, they won't take him. And I saw the same thing with my son. We could not get him into schools that I knew he would thrive in because he had a history of aggression in a setting that he couldn't thrive in. Yeah. I think we have so much work to do where we create environments where our kids can thrive. 


00:33:40    Alyssa

100%, I think starting with just understanding this, you know, and that like your youngest, she's the one that everyone's probably like, what a good kid, you know? And then inside, she's like, oh, I can't ask questions. I can't fail. I have to maintain this good kid thing. 


00:34:02    Dayna

This perfect persona. 


00:34:03    Alyssa

Yes, I can't make, oh gosh, that resonates with me. I was the good kid. And I experienced some pretty big trauma in my teen years. And, but I was a good kid, right? So I had it together. I was a star athlete or star student and a starting athlete and like president of student council and all the things, right? Like no one had to think about me. And so when it came time for me to need help, I didn't A, have an outlet for that, but also didn't know how to ask for it. And so then I was inside, on the outside, I was looking like a 10, you know? And on the inside, I was drowning. I was like treading water to stay afloat, living at like a three or a four. And I had figured out how to get my way through school and through life. What did people want to see or hear from me? You know, like also didn't read the books, but I knew how to write the papers and tell them what they needed to hear and whatever. And I learned how to get by, but I was the good kid. I was easy. And what that really meant was, yeah, I was drowning. 


00:35:18    Dayna

Yeah, I was in school. I was mostly the easy one in comparative. My brother is bipolar. And so I was the easy one. You know, I was the one, you know, who, even my younger brother who, you know, I just, I feel for him because he was like, you were the smart one. You were the one that had it all together, you know? And so then he created these beliefs about himself because we were so different. And he's carried that into adulthood because he didn't have anyone to help him understand and to help him navigate what was going on on the outside and the inside. And I just also think about when we understand our kids, and you said, when we understand ourselves, well, now it makes sense why my mom and I had a volatile relationship because we both had that fight response. Like that was our survival mechanism was to just go into, I'm going to fight to death till, you know, to get to the end of this and to make sure I come out okay. And, you know, when we can recognize that our, what our response, like primary one is, what our go -to is and what our kids go to is, now we can start saying, okay, all right. Now I see why we're oil and water. I see why we struggle to see eye to eye, especially when we're both dysregulated. So it makes it even more important to get back to a regulated state before we have conversations, before we problem solve, before we try to do any other skill building or any sort of tools. 


00:36:52    Alyssa



00:36:52    Dayna

And that's kind of the thing that is, when you were talking about the science museum and so many people, we jumped to the strategies and the tools and, you know, well, let's just teach them growth mindset and let's just give them emotional regulation skills and let's just do all these things. And it's like, but if they don't have an understanding first of an awareness of how do I know when I need this and how do I get myself to safety emotionally and psychologically so that I can even access it? So that's why, you know, in the book, I start with that getting everyone to safety emotionally, physically, psychologically, because if you don't have that safety, it doesn't matter what scripts, it doesn't matter what tools, it doesn't matter what you have in place, it's not going to work for you. 


00:37:44    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly, exactly. And we have this urge to like distract them out of, or in my family, a big one was like humor. My dad, who's awesome, but would try to use humor just to, and sometimes it'll get that brain back online and it will cue safety. And sometimes it's like, no, I just need to feel, I need to feel this and I need to know that you can be in it with me. And like, so figuring out like what does safety look like for different kids? Oh, Dayna, I feel like I can do this forever with you. I am so glad that your book exists and is diving into this and really presenting the nervous system as something that everyone has, because it's true. And when we can, my hope is that this book isn't only read by folks who are like, oh, I have a strong willed child, or I have a child who is neurodivergent or has an ADHD diagnosis, but truly that everyone could benefit from this. 


00:38:52    Dayna

I agree, it is my hope and dream that this book is in every classroom and every home in the world, because I think that it will create a more accepting and compassionate world when we can understand ourselves and we can understand the children we're raising. And I've seen it. I've seen what happens when these kids, when parents use this methodology, not just for their strong willed kid, their explosive child, their child with ADHD, but their whole family, and they create this deep understanding of everyone in the family, they then go out and they advocate for other kids. They become the kids in the classroom, pulling kids together to do a huddle and saying, okay, what are your concerns? Okay, I noticed you don't feel safe. I noticed this isn't working for you. What do you need? And then taking it back to the teacher and advocating for that. And it's empowered parents, it's empowered the kids. And I just think, wow, could you imagine the next generation that has this knowledge, that has this ability to see others for who they are and really help each person that they encounter feel safe? 


00:40:02    Alyssa

I can imagine it and I freaking love it. My two -year -old, just the other day, we were hanging out with folks and one of the tiny humans was having a hard time, was dysregulated. And he said, her body's out of control. And I was like, yeah, her body's out of control right now. And he said, what helps her in control? And I was like, what helps her get in control? And I was like, she really likes it when somebody's near her, when her body feels out of control. It helps her feel safe when somebody's close by. And he said, like the rabbit from the Rabbit Listened and that book we love and he loves. And I was like, yeah, like the rabbit. She doesn't like to be talked to. She doesn't like to be touched, but she likes it when somebody's near her. And he just went and he brought his little toy over and he just sat in close proximity to her, but not talking to her, not whatever. And he just played near her. And I was like, this is possible at two and a half. 


00:40:56    Alyssa



00:40:56    Alyssa

And I am just like, man, what does it look like? What does that world look like? Like, I can see it, you know? Like I can see it and I'm so jazzed about it. And I'm so grateful for resources like yours to help us get there. Thank you. That story just made me cry. 


00:41:15    Dayna

No, it's amazing. And it makes me tear up thinking about it. And anytime someone posts in our group and we see kids, kids at all ages start saying, you know, one little kid, I don't even know why I'm telling this story. I know we've probably got to go, but you know, he was like, he was two. He was just starting to learn and we celebrate wins. And he had just been sick. And the mom happened to be recording. She goes, well, what was your win today? And he goes, I puked and I puked and I puked. And then I felt better. And I was like, okay, all right. Like, so at two, we can even start recognizing like when our body feels better. 


00:42:00    Alyssa

Oh my God, precious. 


00:42:01    Dayna

Yeah, it's so like, so I'm with you on that. Like anytime I see children taking these concepts that we had to work through and really go through a lot to get to this place where as adults, we're learning it. And when they have it at two, when they have it at four, when they have it at 16, when their friends are suffering and they're able to be that safe place, I'm like, wow, this is gonna be an amazing world. 


00:42:28    Alyssa

Yeah, and I think what's huge is our language around it that he has been consistently exposed to when we are around kids who are dysregulated and having a hard time. I'm not saying things like, oh, she wasn't listening to her mom or her sister. And so that she can't play with that toy or whatever. I'm not presenting the behavior. I'm presenting, oh, she's having a hard time. Her body feels dysregulated. She feels out of control. We'll say things like, I wonder if her heart's beating really fast. I hear her voice is so loud. And we talk about what's happening inside for these humans. And we do it when he's in a regulated state because that's the best time to learn. And then we can bring it into when he's in a dysregulated state. And I'll say, oh, your voice is so loud. And I wonder if your heart's beating fast. Do you want me to stay near you or would you like some space? And he can bring those things now more and more into the moment because of how we talk about them outside of the moment, not just his outside of the moment, but when he sees these other kids. And I think when we can start to notice what is our voice and what are we saying when we're around these things and other scenarios? Because if we're focused on the behavior with other kids, that's what kids are learning outside that moment. 


00:43:46    Dayna

Yes, a hundred percent. I love it. 


00:43:49    Alyssa

Dayna, I love you. This is great. I love it. Can you please repeat the name of your book and let people know where they can find you, learn more about your program, all that jazz? 


00:44:00    Dayna

Absolutely. So the book is, "Calm the Chaos, a Fail -Proof Roadmap for Parenting Even the Most Challenging Kids". You can get it anywhere where books are sold, but if you go to calmthechaosbook.com, we have some bonuses for you and even a little Facebook group to help you implement the book. And then you can find me on all social channels and even a podcast at Calm the Chaos Parenting. 


00:44:23    Alyssa

Thank you so much. 


00:44:24    Dayna

Thank you. 


00:44:27   Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at voicesofyourvillage.com. Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at seed.and.sew. Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag seed.and.sew to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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