When Your Nervous System is Overwhelmed by your Child's Sensory Needs with OT Larissa Geleris

00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. And today we get to dive into something that really hits home for me. We get to chat with Larissa Geleris about when your nervous system is overwhelmed by your child's sensory needs. Larissa is an occupational therapist and y 'all know how much I love an OT. It was really helpful because really right when Sage was pretty young, it became clear that he and I are a sensory mismatch. That what fuels me and is recharging for me is the opposite of what fuels him and is recharging for him and then vice versa. What fuels him and is recharging for him is the opposite for me. I, for instance, am a sound sensitive human. So like tapping or clicking noises, et cetera, can really add up for me. And usually for sound sensitive humans, if you're in control of the sound, then it isn't dysregulating. And so for him, he can tap or play with toys that are like clicking and it drives my nervous system bonkers. And so figuring out like, how do we navigate this? What does it look like for me to recharge my nervous system and take care of my sensory needs while also supporting his sensory needs when they're different? When my systems can get overwhelmed by what his systems need. I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this. I think figuring out how to help our bodies regulate while also helping our children is such a challenge sometimes, and is so crucial for doing the rest of any of this work, that we know that being in a regulated state is huge for being able to respond with intention, but getting to that regulated state, boy, can it be a doozy. I'm so excited to get to share this with you. All right, folks. Let's dive in. 


00:02:02    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. 


00:02:24    Alyssa

Hello, everyone, and welcome back to Voices of Your Village. Today, I get to hang out with Larissa Geleris. Larissa, I feel like this is going to be annoying for all parties involved, the Larissa Alyssa situation. So I apologize to everyone in advance for that. But Larissa is an OT, which y 'all know is one of my favorite kinds of humans I guess to hang out with, besides the tiny ones. And Larissa has an Instagram handle called @steadyparents and our entire team I think follows @steadyparents. We have a list when we're talking about like brainstorming podcast content, who we want to reach out to for guests and stuff like that. And Larissa, you were top of the list. You have like hands down. We want to chat with her and we have 7 million ideas, and how do we just narrow down the idea? But today we get to hang out and chat about sensory mismatch. And I was sharing with Larissa here before we started recording that we did a poll recently and asked folks, what comes up for you when you hear the word sensory? And two things overwhelmingly came up for folks: sensory bins, like a bin of, you know, rice or water or something kids might play with. And the other one was autism. And so we're gonna get maybe down and dirty a little bit at the beginning about what the word sensory really even means so that we can talk about what a sensory mismatch means. Larissa is not just an OT. She also has online courses specializing in identifying and treating sensory processing dysfunction. She's passionate about supporting parents who are experiencing overstimulation, overwhelm and dysregulation. If you don't fall into one of those, who are you? And please reach out. She has written multiple courses, has been a guest on several podcasts and runs an Instagram platform that provides practical and evidence based strategies for the sensory challenges of parenthood. Larissa's dream is for parents to feel confident and steady in their parenting journey. And I dig that dream. Larissa, I'm excited to get to hang with you. 


00:04:32    Larissa

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. I'm so, so excited. 


00:04:36    Alyssa

Yeah, I'm jazzed, too. And for folks listening too, Larissa is also a parent. She's got two kids and lives it. And I first want to chat about that word sensory, Larissa, and break down what does it actually mean when we are saying sensory, sensory profile, sensory processing? Like what is sensory really mean? 


00:04:58    Larissa

Yeah, that is such a great question. And you're right. When you were telling me what it was that parents automatically thought of, I knew you were going to say those two things. I knew you were going to say sensory bins and I knew you were going to say autism. So essentially what sensory is and what my goal really for everyone is to understand what sensory is, is that it is the most foundational system in our body. It starts in the brainstem, which is where heart rate is regulated, which is where breath rate is regulated, which is where sleep and wake cycles are. It's right there next to all the other survival skills. So when you hear sensory, I want you to think survival, foundational. It is the most foundational piece of who we are. And so, OK, great. But what does that mean, really? So we have eight sensory systems. I'm sure everybody already knows the five. There's, you know, vision, touch, smell, taste and-- 


00:06:00    Alyssa



00:06:01    Larissa



00:06:01    Alyssa

I know it's hard to recall the five. 


00:06:03    Larissa

Every time I do the five, I'm like, wait a minute, what are they? I know the extra three, though, so--


00:06:08    Alyssa

Sure, you got it. 


00:06:09    Larissa

There's the five. We learn about them in elementary school, but there are three more. So there's the vestibular system, which is located in our inner ear, and it is our sense of where our head is in space and in relationship to gravity. So is our head tilted to the side? Are we falling forward? Are we falling backward? All of that. So it's our sense of our our movement in space and where our head is in relationship to gravity. So it keeps us upright. It keeps us making sure that we're not falling. And it tells us if we are. And then there's proprioception, which is our body awareness. So that's our muscles and our joints and our understanding of where our body is in space. So that's why you can reach around to the back of your neck and scratch the right spot without seeing it. It's because you can sense where your arm is without looking. 


00:07:00    Alyssa



00:07:00    Larissa

And then there's interoception, which is your internal sensations. So it's the feeling of your heart rate, the feeling of hunger or thirst or bowel or bladder pressure, all of that that happens within us that lets us know what's going on. So that is sensory. It's all of those systems, all eight of them getting information from both the environment, so what's happening around us, and also internally what's happening within us, making sense of it. So it all comes into our brainstem. It gets all organized and then gets sent to different parts of our brain to let us know what we're supposed to do about it. So how we make sense of that situation and what do you do? Well, so-


00:07:44    Alyssa

I think that's such a great overview. Yeah, I dig it so much. And I hope that when people are just listening, they're like, oh, OK, so this is me and everyone I know, right? That it's not when we're talking about having a sensory profile for me, I'm like, are you human and alive? Like, great. We're talking about you and we're talking about sensory. And sensory systems, we've all got them. And one of my life goals is for folks to learn about their unique sensory systems and the ones of the humans that are around them, because as you said, like this is foundational. And for me personally, for me as a teacher, for me as as a parent, for me as a partner, like learning how my brain and my body works, it was a game changer for how I showed up in the world. 


00:08:35    Larissa



00:08:35    Alyssa

And this is what I want to really dive into today, because the way that my brain and body works is different, much different than the way that my son's works. And with this comes challenges. And I'm really jazzed to dive into like what that looks like and how we navigate it. But I think first and foremost is huge that like breakdown of we've all got them. We've all got sensory systems and we can't move into the mismatch part if we don't understand those sensory systems. Now, within those eight, we're all going to be sensitive to some things and seeking other things. Right. So like,


00:09:12    Larissa



00:09:13    Alyssa

-Let's break this down a little bit. For myself, I can give an example: I am sensitive to sound. Actually, just this morning, a friend of mine was over at our house and we have this like Thomas train. I have a two year old with this Thomas train and some human who hates me gave my son this train that can turn on and it then can like go around the house and makes noise. But when it gets stuck on something, it makes this like sound that is so grating to me like, 


00:09:43    Larissa

Oh, I'm getting goosebumps thinking about that. 


00:09:46    Alyssa

OK, great. Yup.


00:09:46    Larissa

I know exactly what. Oh, oh my gosh. Yeah. 


00:09:49    Alyssa

And there was a morning recently where I hadn't slept well and I like woke up and was already not well resourced. Right? And I'm going through the morning and it was just like one of those mornings. We were at odds with each other and I'm already decently dysregulated and he's going to go to child care soon, and I need that. Right. Like I'm like looking forward to that pause and getting out the door is a whole thing. And in the process of getting out the door, he turned on this train and it is now clicking as the background noise to us trying to get out the door and I snapped. And my like recollection of this experience is just like hearing that clicking and then snapping. And now when I hear it I'm like, oh my gosh, it like makes me want to lose it. So I'm a sound sensitive human and those sounds really add up for me. I'm very aware of them. And I seek touch. I love it. It's so regulating for me. I could have a massage for four days and be like, I want more. I can wear a baby on my body forever. I like light touch. I like deep touch. Like, give me all the touch. I dig it so much. And, this is not how my child operates. 


00:11:08    Larissa

No, of course not. 


00:11:10    Alyssa

Of course not. Right. And so I'm going to give you a little bit about him and then let's play with this a little from an OT perspective. 


00:11:17    Larissa



00:11:18    Alyssa

So he actually is also sound sensitive, but he's tactically sensitive, touch sensitive. So every diaper change, every time we're changing clothes, any time we're putting on sunscreen. And if he's having a hard time, he doesn't want to be touched. If you try to hug him when he is dysregulated, that is further dysregulating for him. And everything inside of me when he's having a hard time wants to hug him because that's what helps me feel calm. 


00:11:49    Larissa



00:11:49    Alyssa

Right? He seeks vestibular input. Just like watching him on a swing sometimes makes me want to throw up, like the amount of vestibular input that he seeks is literally nauseating for me, like I cannot handle. He wants to spin and he wants to swing. So for us, let's break this down. I'm like, what this can look like. I think you refer to it as the goodness of fit. 


00:12:19    Larissa

Yes, that is a term that is used. 


00:12:22    Alyssa

Yeah. You, you, the general you. 


00:12:24    Larissa

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. 


00:12:25    Alyssa

You, you OTs. 


00:12:27    Larissa

Yeah. So essentially what goodness of fit is, is how attuned we are to our child's needs and our ability to tolerate their experiences. And so what you're saying is you have this-- when your child is dysregulated, you want to come and give him a hug because that's what you know works. But you also know--


00:12:55    Alyssa

For me


00:12:57    Larissa

Right, it works for you, but it doesn't work for him. And being attuned to that is where this goodness of fit is. And so essentially what we want is to create this awareness and this sense attunement to our child's needs. But the only way to get there is to be in tune with what you need too, and to be able to separate those two experiences and know this is my experience. I, the mom in this situation, really benefit from hugs, from deep pressure, from a light stroke on the arm, whatever it is that you, the mom experience, know that that's what helps you. And being able to take off that lens and put on a different lens for your child. So knowing you two are separate individuals with separate systems. And if you are able to regulate yourself and be clear about that, then you can then do what your child needs for them and be attuned to their needs and tolerate their, like you're saying, when he's spinning, it makes you feel nauseous. You don't have to look, you know, I mean, you can close your eyes. You can kind of turn your head a little bit and look at it, look at him through your peripheral vision. So knowing that separation of this is his experience, this is good for him, what he's doing is necessary for him and what I'm doing is necessary for me. And you can't do that without taking care of you first and prioritizing you. And this is not to shame you for not taking care of yourself, if that's the case, because it often is. But what I want to emphasize is that you, the parent, are the most important therapeutic tool in this dynamic. And so you are the core co -regulator in this experience between the parent and the child. Can't depend on the child to regulate you. That's not fair to them. They're a child. And so, so you know that, you know, take care of you. Because that allows you to pause to then look at the situation as it is and then come in to support your child. 


00:15:28    Alyssa

I think the challenge is in the how, right? And like, you know, this as a mom and so like as a sound sensitive human when the freaking clicking is happening or there's a lot of noise, I have found it helpful to have either like-- not like noise canceling headphones, I don't know what they're called, like noise deafening, whatever. They like make they help with the noise situation. Loop earplugs were the ones recommended to me. And we'll shout out free plug for loop. And it, but like that's helpful. Like that's part of, for me, like self -care is how am I nurturing my nervous system so that I can show up for him? This is where I was saying, like understanding my nervous system and my sensory systems was a game changer for me in relationship because then I could know like, all right, yeah, kids are loud, right? 


00:16:23    Larissa

They are loud. 


00:16:23    Alyssa

And like he lives in my house, right? So he's here all the time. And he, which means it's loud a lot of the time and that I don't, I don't want him to stop being a kid or existing in this space. And so what does it look like to recognize like, all right, the sound's going to add up, it's cumulative and how can I support myself through this? And one of those is like earplugs and others are like, what is regulating for me? What am I seeking and how do I make sure I have some access to that? Proprioceptive input's regulating for me, touch is regulating for me. And so how do I make sure I'm accessing those things or just like eating breakfast, drinking coffee, having my water in the morning? Right. And for me, that's a boundary setting is what really comes back there of like, mama, come play with me. Mama, come see this. Mama, what? Like those of I know that eating my breakfast is going to mean that I can better show up for him. 


00:17:22    Larissa

Totally, totally. 


00:17:23    Alyssa

Even if it means he's melting down while eating my breakfast because he wants me to come play with it. 


00:17:27    Larissa

Yeah, I had that exact experience yesterday with lunch and it was just-- so my kids are five and two and they're at this stage where the five year old can do pretty much anything on his own and chooses not to. And my two year old can't do much on her own, but she would like to. And so they both then get stuck in this state of like, oh, no, I need help at the same time and it's so fun. And this was happening, I hadn't eaten breakfast that day and it was the mom, mom, mom coming from all directions and then the distress cry, which distress is a signal that is supposed to trigger your nervous system. 


00:18:10    Alyssa



00:18:11    Larissa

Like you're supposed to react if somebody needs you, that's survival, like you have to. But when it is happening all the time, then it sends you into hyperdrive. But OK, so going back to my experience at lunch, it was this I and I was like, you guys, I need to eat and I just straight up like I need to eat my lunch right now. And then you guys go ahead, do your do your shrieking. I need to fuel myself because I can't help you. The most important thing right now is that I eat. And I think there's so much, which is good, so much talk about boundaries in the especially in the social media space and setting boundaries with others and setting boundaries with in -laws and setting boundaries with friends and all of that. But, yeah, we get to set boundaries with our children. And that means doing the things that take care of you so you can show up. You are not a doormat for your child's every desire. It's... you.. you're not. You're not. 


00:19:14    Alyssa

You just can't show up that way. Like I literally cannot-- how I respond to said shrieking depends on whether or not I'm taking care of myself. Right. So like if I do want to show up as a more regulated parent, that means like there's going to be times of dysregulation because also for the record, I've never set a boundary and had him say like, great, can't wait to follow it, mom, love this. Right. So like when I set the boundary, I think that's one thing that like on social media kind of drives me bonkers is this idea that like, oh, yeah, I'm going to like be a gentle parent. I'm going to set this boundary and then I'm going to like get on their level and I'm going to emotion coach him through this and I'm going to feel fine inside and they're going to feel fine inside. It's like, no, he's crying. He's run out of the room. He's throwing something or he's losing it. And inside, I'm now also dysregulated like mirror neurons are real. And so now I'm also dysregulated. Yeah. And this idea that like it's just going to if I say the right words or I do it in the right way that I won't feel the trigger or the dysregulation from it, I, I'm going to call BS on. 


00:20:19    Larissa



00:20:19    Alyssa

And so I think like that's part of it is recognizing, yeah, I'm going to set this boundary and he is going to probably be upset about it and that's OK. Yeah. 


00:20:31    Larissa

And I think a key with that, because, yes, I agree. And I get that, too, all the time when I talk about feeling touched out and like it's OK to not, to not, to say like, I need my body to be my own right now. Yeah, it's OK. And then without a doubt, someone will say, but then they're going to cry and then I'm going to get overwhelmed by their crying. So isn't it better to just let them climb on me?


00:20:52    Alyssa

 Short term or long term? 


00:20:54    Larissa

Right. Exactly. And if you are aware of your own triggers, so for me, it is the climbing on me. So I had a concussion a couple of years ago and I still have some visual motor challenges from it. And when my children get right up in my face, my eyes can't follow it. And so that sends me into overstimulation like so quickly if they're just like, you know, right in front of my face, my eyes can't follow it. And so I know that when they get that close to my face, I'm going to get overstimulated. So knowing that means that you get to set the boundary before your max. So you don't have to wait. It's the opposite of what we feel like we should do as parents. We feel like we need to stretch our patience to give our children everything that they want, put our needs aside. But ultimately, we are going to hit our capacity. We're going to snap. And if we set the boundary when we're right before we're about to snap, then their pushback is going to send us into that fight or flight mode. And we then usually we'll be like, OK, OK, OK. You know, and so but if we can say if we can be mindful of little shifts in our body and so you can identify when you're starting to get overstimulated before you hit your max, then you can say, OK, you get one more minute with that Thomas the train toy and then we need a break.


00:22:24    Alyssa

Before I want to chuck it into the ocean. 


00:22:26    Larissa

Exactly. Exactly. And that then when they when it has been the minute and then they push back, you are able to tolerate that experience for them as well. 


00:22:37    Alyssa



00:22:37    Larissa

And that is the key in setting boundaries, in allowing them to push against the boundaries, because that's what they're supposed to do. That's developmentally appropriate for them. And you then are able to tolerate their experience. There's just so much good that comes from that, from setting the boundary before you're about to lose it. 


00:22:59    Alyssa

You have more bandwidth, then, for their meltdown. Right. Because I did, we did a post actually on patience versus boundaries because I- I'm not a very patient person. And I like, jokingly, in my household, my husband is remarkably patient. Bless him. And I'm not super patient. And so if I'm relying on patience to get me through, we're all screwed. And so for me, like boundaries are super key that I need to make sure it's that self awareness component of like, all right, I'm noticing, I had to really work on building awareness of, when do I feel like I'm trying to be patient? Because then the narrative that happens in my head is like, I've already been really patient. I'm being a very kind parent. I've already given and given and given on this thing. And you just keep taking and it like adds up for me of like, will it ever be enough? Oh, my gosh, you should be grateful. Right. Like all of these things, if only like you should have seen what I had in my childhood, you should be so grateful for what you got right now. And because they don't know, like I'm relying on patience and I'm giving and I'm giving. It's all this like unspoken thing that's happening beneath the surface. And when I notice that I'm turning to patience in a scenario that now is a trigger for me of like, where do you need a boundary? Because--


00:24:20    Larissa

I love that 


00:24:21    Alyssa

The patience isn't going to last very long over here. And so where do I need a boundary? And that like that's something I have to work really hard on and be really mindful of. Otherwise, I can snap. And you're absolutely right when I can catch it early and I can set that boundary earlier, then when that meltdown happens, I have more bandwidth to deal with it than if I've been patient, I've been patient, I've been patient, I've been patient and now I'm pretty dysregulated. And now I try to set the boundary and then there's a meltdown. Then I'm like, screw it, whatever. Like, yeah, you can have the thing. 


00:24:57    Larissa

Right. Right. 


00:24:58    Alyssa

Because you don't have the patience for it anymore. 


00:25:00    Larissa

Yeah. Yeah. Or, or/and I mean, either/both, you run into your room crying and slam the door and then the kids are banging on it. Mom, mom, mom. And you don't want it-- yes, we all have moments where we go hide in our bathroom. I do it. 


00:25:19    Alyssa

Hundred percent. 


00:25:19    Larissa

Hundred percent. But that should not be a relied upon strategy. 


00:25:25    Alyssa

Sure. It shouldn't be the norm. 


00:25:26    Larissa

It shouldn't be the norm. And-- 


00:25:28    Alyssa



00:25:29    Larissa

--it's creating this rupture where then you're, you are running away from the situation and your child is trying to wonder what's going on. And that shouldn't be something that you rely on. It is something that you will do for sure. And I want to be clear about that.


00:25:46    Alyssa

I think it sucks for us as the adult, right? Like it sucks to live in that pattern where you're just in this cycle of dysregulation of like I get to this point and I'm a breaking point. I have to take space. To live in that cycle, I mean, even pause on the like kid psychology part of it, just sucks to live like that as the adult. And so like getting out of that spiral is so helpful. And yeah, you're going to enter it sometimes. There was time recently we're driving in the car and I just said, Sage, I am starting to feel really frustrated in my body and I'm not ready to answer that question again. I'm going to take 10 deep breaths and calm my body and I'll let you know if I'm calm enough to talk again yet. Yeah. He still asked that question. He still asked me, what are you doing, mama? What are you doing, mama? What are you doing up there? Like the entire time, it wasn't like I had a trip to the spa in the front seat driving the car. 


00:26:41    Larissa



00:26:41    Alyssa

But those moments are going to happen where I'm like, yeah, I cannot be here for you right now because what I want to do is scream at you at this point because I heard that question 7 ,000 times and have answered 7 ,000 times, and I can't go through this for one more second right now. 


00:26:56    Larissa

Right. Right. 


00:26:57    Alyssa

And yeah, I think making space for that both end of like it's going to happen sometimes. And if it's our norm, it's a self -care challenge. And we know self -care and self -reg are buddies. 


00:27:08    Larissa

Yeah. Best friends and self -compassion. 


00:27:11    Alyssa



00:27:12    Larissa

The three best friends that anyone could have. 


00:27:16    Alyssa

It's so true. And we aren't set up systematically for this here in the States. And we talk a lot about this in Tiny Humans, Big Emotions, because we have in the CEP method five components. One is adult child interactions. The other four parts are about us. And self -care is one of them. And for me, it was really looking at like practical self -care. What does this really look like that nurtures our nervous system? Like loop earplugs for me is part of self -care. I don't have the capacity in my life right now to go for a half hour run every morning. Right. Like that's not accessible to me right now. And so what is? 


00:27:54    Larissa

Yeah. Yeah. So. One, like we talked about, boundaries is self -care. Another thing is sleep. And I know that also sounds like something to laugh at when you're a parent, because you can't control the quantity of sleep. I mean, depending on the age of your children, if you have a newborn, of course, you're not going to be sleeping at all. You have a two year old. It's a hit or miss of like, I don't know what I'm if I'm going to be able to sleep through the night or not. My five year old still wakes up through the night sometimes. And and it's just like you don't you don't know what you're going to get. But what you can do is set yourself up for good quality sleep and for an easier transition into sleep for the moments that you can sleep. And we know that poor sleep quality is correlated with decreased pain threshold, which means you experience pain at a higher level, higher sensory sensitivity. And we started this conversation by you saying with the Thomas the Train thing, when when you haven't slept, then that Thomas the Train going into the wall is the ultimate trigger. And so we know that they're related. OK, great. So what do we do? So really making sure that you take the time to transition to sleep because it's not-- it's a shift in your nervous system states going from wake to sleep. You can't just just lay down. My husband can, but I can't. You can't expect to just lay down and fall asleep. It's a transition, especially if you're already in an overstimulated state. You need to take it down. And so wind down time before bed, a dimly lit bathroom while you're brushing your teeth. Anything that you can do to kind of create a little bit of autopilot and create a little bit of safety in this experience, make it a routine so that your nervous system knows that it's coming so that you can better prepare for it and settle into relaxation more quickly. Because, again, you can't always control how much sleep you're going to get, but you can there are things that you can control. And so if you-- sleep is one of the most important factors there. 


00:30:04    Alyssa

Yeah, I dig that. And I was thinking as you were chatting about Ellen Vora's The Anatomy of Anxiety, she's been on the podcast before. And in her book, she has a section on sleep and A. how we can improve our sleep quality, but B. the relationship it has to anxiety. Yeah. Huge. Alright. Hit me with some more. 


00:30:24    Larissa

Yeah. All right. So another thing is like we've talked about still understanding your triggers and your patterns. So taking a deep dive into what triggers you and when they happen. So if, you know, like you were saying, getting out the door for to take your child to to daycare, you know, that's going to be a trigger. So what can you do to set yourself up so that you can handle that? And so like breakfast, like eating it or for me and for a lot of parents, it's the the getting dinner ready. So that four to seven chaos, just pure chaos. So if you take a few minutes at three thirty or a little bit before that's going to before that chaotic moment is going to hit, then you are coming into that situation with a clearer mind. You are able to handle it. So maybe go to your room for a few minutes before you feel like you need to run to your room. So just go like, OK, or take a step outside and just breathe for 10 seconds. Like I'm not talking a big-- 


00:31:30    Alyssa



00:31:31    Larissa

--big, you know, because that's not possible. But taking a few minutes to reset before a potentially triggering situation, share a snack with your kids. Crunchy and chewy foods are my favorite strategies because what they do is they give proprioceptive input into the mouth, and so if you think about-- if you eat a raspberry and you get a seed stuck in your teeth, you can feel it for four days, 


00:31:59    Alyssa

Forever, forever, 


00:32:00    Larissa

Forever if you don't floss. And so (my husband is a dentist and he's probably like, oh, four days without flossing!) but that is just to show I only bring that up to show you how sensitive those proprioceptive receptors are. They are so sensitive. And so use it to your advantage. Kids do it all the time. They're the ones chewing on their pencils, chewing on their shirts. They know it's a strategy. So use it, too. So at four o 'clock before you start dinner, pull out some carrots and eat as a family, have a snack as a family so that you guys are in this regulated state together and then you're connecting with them. They are not then tapping you at four forty five, five o 'clock. Hey, mom, mom, I'm hungry. I'm hungry. Can I have a snack? Can I? And so if you are able to handle that, you get their tummies filled, you get your tummy filled, take care of yourself before, that can be really key. 


00:33:00    Alyssa

I've even found, too, for me, like the transition out of work into pick up for child care. I feel like I often was just like one thing to the next, packing as many things as I can into that precious little time that I have to work and do anything else that might be child free. Right. And I would, I would pack it so full. And I had to literally start putting on my calendar little times, five minute times. There were windows of pausing to do something for me that's regulating. And one of those times is before I pick him up from child care, having five minutes with no stimulation. So I would be like doing things around the house, getting ready, trying to prepare ourselves for success for dinner and listening to a podcast and like still very much in go mode. And now I carve out five minutes, even if I'm going to be late to pick him up. Like, I love you, teachers. I get I get it, I was a child care teacher and I still will choose like I'm going to be a little late because I'm going to be a more regulated parent when I pick him up. If I take these five minutes to literally not have any sounds, no screens and I just have downtime right now, I've been doing I've been stretching because I'm pregnant and that feels really good and helpful. But it kind of has shifted in different seasons. But five minutes and it's been huge for me. 


00:34:32    Larissa

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Such it's that is so key. It's so key. And it's like you're saying five minutes. That is not a lot of time. 


00:34:41    Alyssa



00:34:41    Larissa

And if and if you-- the benefit to taking those five minutes means that if you don't do that and then you get to this state where you are so dysregulated, your brain can't think. So you're going to be making mistakes. You're going to be yelling. Your children are going to be crying. You're going to be hiding in the bathroom. That takes way longer than five minutes. 


00:35:05    Alyssa

Totally. Well, I think what you're what you're nailing here is like the sensory mismatch that we might have with our kids. It's not their responsibility to manage. It's ours to make sure we are practicing self -care so that we can self -regulate knowing, yeah they're going to be loud. It's going to pull the example we use or the analogy we use in the book is a battery that like, yeah, it is from the moment you unplug it going to start to drain. Totally. And there are certain things that will drain it faster. And my child being louder-- that Thomas friggin’ train is going to drain it faster. And so I need to recharge it throughout the day. Otherwise it'll get to that like blinking red zone. And so going in knowing like it's our job to recharge throughout the day because the withdrawals, those like pulls from that battery, they're going to happen. 


00:36:04    Larissa

Yeah. Yeah. And I think a key point also here is you're saying like the withdrawals will happen. Sometimes you're not going to charge, too. Sometimes you don't-- you don't remember to charge, you just have too much on your plate. 


00:36:19    Alyssa



00:36:20    Larissa

Whatever it is. And you're going to get to that state of your dysregulation and you're going to yell and your child is going to yell and all of that stuff that we all know so intimately, those moments where you just don't feel like you. 


00:36:36    Alyssa

Like when I ripped my child's backpack out of his hand going to child care a few weeks ago? Yeah, those moments? 


00:36:42    Larissa

Yeah, exactly. So nobody expects you to be a perfect parent. 


00:36:49    Alyssa



00:36:49    Larissa

And not only that, being a perfect parent is not--besides not attainable, should not be a goal, because, if you are constantly like this perfect little like, oh, it's OK, I can do this, and you know, this little fairy godmother, you're never responding in a way that kind of heightens a little bit. You're not teaching your child then that it's that it is OK to tolerate an uncomfortable situation. So you, by going back and repairing after you have done something that you aren't proud of, that repair, that apology, that narration of what just happened, that is the life changing event for the nervous system, not being a perfect parent. And so so I've heard of it as like your get out of jail free card. But also it's so much more than that. Like it is a beautiful, supportive moment. You are teaching your child that when there is a rupture that happens, it's not the end of the relationship. And so if you come in and say you are expanding, then, their window of tolerance for the discomfort in the relationship, and they know that there are going to be fluctuations in experiences and you're going to be with them no matter what. And you are not holding on to to whatever it is that happened. You know, you're there, you're there, you're--that's the secure attachment pieces coming in and saying like, whoa, I was really upset right then. That was not about you. That was all me. And I am so sorry I reacted like that. And I'm going to try to do better. I'm going to try to do things differently. And I love you no matter what. Like that is the that is the life changing event. 


00:38:47    Alyssa

Totally. Well and I think when we're talking about like this idea of perfect parent, which also called BS on, but if you say it did whatever in some manner exist, you could attain that, it shows, it models for your kids that dysregulation isn't OK. And so then when they inevitably get dysregulated, as all humans do, then inside, it's real easy to attach shame to say like, shoot, I'm failing because I'm dysregulated. I'm failing because I'm having a hard time. My mom, my dad, my papa, my --they never get to this point. They never have a hard time. And if only I could do X, Y and Z, I could be like them and I could be perfect, too. Right. And that's-- 


00:39:33    Larissa

And what is wrong with me. 


00:39:35    Alyssa

Yeah, exactly. And that's not what I want to model for kids. Not at all. I have I have another sensory mismatch question for you. This is a real life example. So two things came up. One, I I enjoy like I am recharged by being in connection with other humans and in community and like the hang part, right? Like a prolonged, never ending hang with certain humans is like recharging for me. My child and my my husband, both are --they like other people and engaging with them, and it's draining for them. They're like, it is exhausting. So we had like on Friday after work, gone to this like thing here in Burlington and a bunch of people and whatever and hanging out and had like dinner there. And it was fun. Everyone was like it worked for all parties involved. Saturday had like a slower morning, Saturday afternoon, we had friends came over and it came to Sunday and I was like, what do you guys want to do? And Zach's like, can we just have a like slow home day? And I was like, oh, yeah, sure. We could also like so and so asked if we wanted to go over and like do dinner over there. And he was like, can we not? Like I just... I feel like we need to slow down. And I was like, oh, right. And then I started to notice with Sage, like we had a bunch of big behaviors in that Sunday, like morning, and it started to like connect for me. Oh right. These humans are so similar and he's probably feeling what my husband is voicing. Can we just not? Can we have a slow morning? I'm feeling spent from all of the engagement we've had. We see this in the holidays, too, where people are like, oh, my God, I need a vacation from the vacation sort of thing. I'm exhausted after everything being out of whack or engaging with all these humans. And so that part for me, I've had to figure out, like, what does it look like to nurture my nervous system and that desire for in -person connection and engagement and honor the fact that for my husband and my son, that's draining. 


00:41:51    Larissa

Yeah. Yeah. So I think recognizing those two key differences and one, not putting judgment or morality on either of them


00:42:03    Alyssa



00:42:03    Larissa

And also knowing it's OK for both of you to take care of your own needs. So maybe your husband and your son want that special, want that downtime and you are still needing more. You don't have to be together. You can go to your friend's house, and without shame of like, oh, I should be home with my husband and my son. Like you get to do that, too, because that is nurturing for you and what your husband and your son are doing is nurturing for them. So I live close to my parents, which is so, so helpful in terms of having support. But there was this one moment this week where my son, who is more-- he prefers more downtime. 


00:42:49    Alyssa



00:42:49    Larissa

He's very similar to me. And my daughter is--I don't know where she came from. She-- 


00:42:56    Alyssa

Is she mine. Is she my kid? 


00:42:58    Larissa

I think she might be yours. She's she looks just like me. Acts nothing like me. And it's so fun. I mean that not sarcastically. I realize that's no, it is. It's so fun. But so the other day I we were at my parents house and my sister was in town and we were all going to go out to dinner. And my son was like, I can't like he had just had a busy day with swim practice. And he was like, I don't want to go to a restaurant. Can we please get takeout? And we're like, no, we're going to go out. It's going to be so fun. And he was like, I can't do it. I'm not going. And he got so upset. And so then I clued into that. And and I realized like this, this poor kid is so tired. It's like Thursday. And so he has had swim practice four days in a row already. And he just needs to go home. And so I was like, you know what, bud? Yeah, like we can go. We'll go home. It's okay. And then my daughter, when she found out we were going home was like, wait, wait, wait, wait. I'm going to a restaurant. And it was so funny. But she was, I was like, no, you know, we're going to go home. Your brother wants to go home. She was like, no, I want to go to a restaurant. And thankfully, my sister, my parents were there. And they're like, it's fine. Like, we can take her out to a restaurant. And so she got to have her experience of going out with her grandparents and her auntie. And she had this fun, you know, experience at this restaurant. And my son and I got to go home. And we rested. And we made like frozen pizza for dinner and just kind of like very chill. And so both of my children with very different sensory needs got what they needed. And that is also supporting the family. And I think that's a key piece. 


00:44:46    Alyssa

So what does it look like when you don't have your grandparents in that scenario? 


00:44:50    Larissa

This is what I would do. So it would depend on your on the dynamics. But cluing in with you, the adult first, what do I need? And what if I don't give what each child wants or needs, what would that look like? And which one can I tolerate better?


00:45:10    Alyssa

Yeah, like triage. 


00:45:11    Larissa

Yeah, exactly. It's a triage situation. So I, in this case, would probably have been able to handle my daughter's meltdowns over my son's just based on the way that they experience their dysregulation. And so unfortunately for my daughter, that would have meant we just go home. And then I would have spent extra time at home with her doing something exciting. So she would still get a little bit of that. But my son could just sit on the couch and veg. So yes, it's triage, trying to figure out what needs to happen. 


00:45:43    Alyssa

I was just thinking like one of my favorite things I did with our preschoolers when I was teaching preschool was talking about the battery so that they could also understand like, where is your battery? And that my battery is pretty empty. I had swim lessons and they're so fun and they empty my battery. And this is like where my battery is. And we used a visual for it. And then for other kids to be able to say like, yeah, my battery is a little bit higher. And I also really wanted to go to the restaurant and like that charges my battery and being able to look at what charges our batteries so that, okay, if we can't go to the restaurant, what else could we do that also charges your battery, right? Like, oh man, your brother's battery is almost empty. And if we go to the restaurant, it'll probably be all the way empty because that drains his battery and it charges yours. And so if we're going to go home so that he can charge his battery at home, what are some things we could do together at home that charge your battery? Let's think about that. And maybe it is, yeah, we're going to play a game. We're going to whatever. But that's, I think, I found it helpful as a preschool teacher to like be able to lay that out there of just the like, what drains your battery? What charges it? And that there are different things that charge them. So if this one activity isn't accessible, what else can we tap into? 


00:47:04    Larissa

Right. And it's, I think, also supporting the development of empathy too and realizing like my brother is different than me and I can take care of his needs without losing my own. And that is also key because we don't want one child with it, so for this example, I would never want my daughter to suppress her needs to take care of her brother or the opposite. I would never want my son to take it to suppress his needs to take care of his sister. But there are things you can do to support both of them. And like you said, like we're going to take this is what's going on with brother. This is how we're going to also take care of you because you are also a valid, important person in this dynamic. And we're going to be able to do both, even if it's not what you were expecting. 


00:47:58    Alyssa

Yeah, I love it. I love that. Oh, my gosh. I knew when we were coming together that I'd talk to you for seven hours because we even had a hard time picking like what topic I want to chat with you about. So thank you. I want to be respectful of your time here. Is there a place that people can learn more about you, find out about resources and materials you have, follow you? 


00:48:24    Larissa

Yeah. So I am on Instagram at @steadyparents. I have two courses that are in line with this topic today. So one of them is called Sensing Your Needs in Parenthood, and it is just about you, the parent. So understanding your sensory needs, what do you need to show up as a parent the way that you want to? And that one is broken down very explicitly because I know that you're an overwhelmed, busy parent. And so the first part of the core piece of it is this six weeks to study, and it's 20 minutes a week for six weeks. That's it. So you, and then there's hours of bonus content. So once you kind of get this, like I call it like swimming lessons for your nervous system because otherwise you feel like you're drowning. And so it's once you kind of get that, like, OK, I'm on my I'm on my life raft. I kind of can float now. Then that's when you can dive in a little bit deeper, and all of that content is there. I also have Parenting with Peace, which is a relationship based guide to understanding your child with their sensory processing needs. So understanding how to care for your child's sensory needs, especially if they have sensory processing disorder, other neurodivergence, then you can bundle them together, too. So those are my two big courses that would really support everything that we're talking about. I also talk about all of this on Instagram, and I offer one on one coaching, which has been so much fun too, just to really get to know you and watch the growth. And, you know, the other day I had I was on a call and she was just she was like, this is life changing. I've been working with I've had all of these symptoms for 10, I think she said 13 years, and nobody has ever put it so clearly and so practically than this. So that has been just the biggest honor and joy. So I'm available in all forms. So short form and long form, I'm here for you and just so excited to be here. 


00:50:28    Alyssa

I love it. We'll link all of those in the blog post at voicesofyourvillage.com. If you are like me and you are tuning into this while you do dishes or on the go in some capacity and couldn't jot it down, you can go to voicesofyourvillage.com later and snag those links and connect with Larissa. Larissa, thank you so much. 


00:50:47    Larissa

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This was such a pleasure. 


00:51:17    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, S -E -W. 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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