In this Episode
Have you ever met someone that you just instantly felt a connection with and wanted to be their best friend? Or someone you didn’t want to be near at all?
Everyone gives off “vibes” - parents, teachers, kids, etc. Sound a little woo woo?
Today you’ll learn the science behind this phenomenon with Rick and Doris Bowman, HeartMath trainers with Masters in Clinical Psychology and Special Education.
Tune in for a quick daily exercise you can do to build your emotional resilience so the homework battles and other bad vibes won’t ruin your day.
In this week's episode, you'll learn:
- Coherence, the science behind feeling another person's “vibe”
- How to build emotional resilience and better self-regulation
- How to re-pattern challenging interactions like homework battles with your kids
- The difference between care and over-care
"Emotions move quicker than thoughts. The heart has its own nervous system and we find that the heart actually communicates with the brain constantly.
Emotions that we have are actually affecting our health as well as our ability to self-regulate."
- Rick and Doris Bowman
- Presentation slides from Rick and Doris Bowman's episode - sign up for our newsletter to gain access
- Bowman Consulting - Proactive Behavior and Trauma-Informed Solutions
- HeartMath.org - Research-backed programs to improve mental and emotional well-being
- Heart Lock-In Technique
Is this idea of coherence something that can be translated remotely via video if we're not in the same room for not in the presence of somebody with great coherence?
Learn how the SLC staff uses visual aids and role playing to help kids build Executive Function in this week’s Bonus Q&A.
[00:00:01.270] - Jill Stowell
Have you ever met someone and you just instantly felt a connection with them and wanted to hang out with them? I'll bet you've also had an instance where you felt the opposite. Everyone gives off vibes. Parents do it, teachers do it, and it has an impact on the people around them. So I know this doesn't sound very scientific, but you're going to find out today that it actually is. This is LD Expert live.
[00:00:44.610] - Jill Stowell
Welcome to LD Expert Live, your place for answers and solutions for learning disabilities, dyslexia, and attention challenges. I'm your host, Jill Stowell, founder of Stowell Learning Centers. We talk a lot about kids because our heart is with making life better for struggling students. Well, students of any age, actually, but you parents and teachers, you're the ones who really have to hold everything together.
[00:01:42.840] - Jill Stowell
So today we're going to be talking about self-regulation and resilience for parents and teachers. In other words, how you can keep your cool and take care of yourself so that you can help your struggling learners achieve the academic and social success you're looking for.
[00:02:03.110] - Jill Stowell
Our guests today are Rick and Doris Bowman. They are coming to us from just outside of Portland, Oregon. Rick has a master's degree in Clinical Psychology. And Doris has a Masters in Special Education. They both have spent more than 20 years in education with a focus on serving children and teens who struggle with learning, behavioral, and emotional, and mental health challenges.
[00:02:33.270] - Jill Stowell
Rick and Doris are certified HearthMath trainers, including providing the Resilience Advantage, which is used to train professionals from the medical, business, education, professional athletics, first responder, and military fields.
[00:02:50.370] - Jill Stowell
We use HearthMath with students at Stowell Learning Centers and it is pretty amazing stuff. I kind of nerd out on the physiological connections behind it all, so I'm really excited that Rick and Doris are here to share their expertise with us and to give you some simple strategies that you can use.
[00:03:14.310] - Jill Stowell
Rick and Doris are certified trauma practitioners and certified trainers in collaborative problem solving and they present at conferences and train educational and mental health agencies all over the country. We are so honored to have you today. Welcome, Doris and Rick.
[00:03:35.730] - Doris Bowman
[00:03:36.610] - Rick Bowman
Thank you, Jill.
[00:03:38.490] - Jill Stowell
You know, as Lauren said, being a parent, especially at this time, is challenging. I mean, being a parent is the most wonderful thing in the world, but it's also hard. My husband is fond of saying, as soon as you bring your newborn home, you realize how little control you actually have.
[00:04:03.310] - Jill Stowell
As parents, you just want everything to be just right for your kids. And when they struggle, you kind of beat yourself up, maybe feel like a failure. And unfortunately, those feelings don't really help our kids. So I know. Doris, you can relate to this as a mom.
[00:04:25.870] - Doris Bowman
Absolutely, Jill. We have four children, and in particular, I think, relating to a lot of the families that might be viewing today is that our daughter, our youngest, had really a significant learning disability and by the end of third grade really could not read, functionally read at all. And you can imagine as an educator and a special educator, I felt this unbelievable burden that I should be able to find the right answer for her.
[00:04:59.890] - Doris Bowman
And her intelligence tested within the average range and we had tried every technique and tool that schools were typically using at that time. She's now 30, so it's been a few years. But at that time we lived in southern Oregon and found that in Portland there was a reading clinic that was using a multi-sensory approach. And we spent a whole summer driving back and forth to Portland and spending the week in Portland at the reading clinic with her getting about 4 hours a day of intensive reading instruction.
[00:05:38.470] - Doris Bowman
And the great news to have a hopeful end to this story is that she really became a reader in about eight weeks, she made two years of reading progress on a Wood Johnson standardized assessment and went on to get her standard high school diploma. And so that was a real success story.
[00:06:00.450] - Doris Bowman
If you find the right thing, this can happen. But at the time, honestly, the neuroscience at that time told us if your child wasn't reading by age seven, you probably missed the window. And I felt like a complete and utter failure.
[00:06:14.930] - Doris Bowman
And so I now understand that much of what I was feeling was what we are going to be talking about today as over-care and that parents want to do what's best for their kids. We're all striving to do what we feel is best, but it can be really hard to maintain our own regulation.
[00:06:37.310] - Doris Bowman
And the same with educators. I really identify with the educators on the call that we see where more and more children are struggling with issues of regulation, self-regulation, emotional regulation. And so for all of us, I think some of the things that we can hopefully help with today is kind of an understanding that depleting emotions that we're experiencing, even for a good reason, that our concern is we have a healthy concern for our child, but those depleting emotions that we're experiencing can be contagious.
[00:07:12.000] - Doris Bowman
Our own level of regulation can be contagious. And so we have to work proactively on our own level of resilience and self-regulation so that we can help our child or student.
[00:07:26.850] - Jill Stowell
It sounds like the first step to helping our kids have more regulation or control over their emotions and behavior is to understand and have control over our own.
[00:07:41.550] - Doris Bowman
[00:07:43.710] - Jill Stowell
Yeah. How does that work? What's the science behind that.
[00:07:49.770] - Doris Bowman
Yeah, well, it's exciting. There's really great science behind it now. And for us that's so meaningful because I think a lot of us have felt over time like oh, other people pick up on our emotions but we haven't really understood how does that happen? And so it's just this kind of mystical woo thing, right? Like you walk in a room and you're around somebody who makes you feel uplifted those kinds of things.
[00:08:15.310] - Doris Bowman
And so now we know that this is a very concrete, research-based physiological process that we can be proactive about. We want to look at resilience and really look at the fact that our typical view of resilience has been kind of a reactionary way of defining it.
[00:08:44.090] - Doris Bowman
I think if I asked a large group of people how would you define resilience? Most people are going to define it as overcoming some really big challenge, right? Someone overcame a difficult childhood or they overcame being in a big natural disaster or something like that. But we really want to promote a redefined way of looking at resilience. And this is the definition that does come from HearthMath and this is how they define it.
[00:09:12.060] - Doris Bowman
The capacity to prepare for, recover from, or adapt in the face of stress, adversity trauma or challenge. And so when we think about this, what we're looking at is that we can take steps to proactively build our resilience. There are four different domains of resilience. There's the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
[00:09:43.390] - Doris Bowman
And generally all of us have a strength in one of these areas. An area where we feel like we're doing pretty well and pretty solid and then other areas that maybe are weaknesses. And so as we look at increasing our resilience we need to increase in all of these areas and create balance, right?
[00:10:04.400] - Doris Bowman
And when we look at this then one of the important concepts that we want to share and we'll be referencing a little bit is that our bodies are energy systems. And so our bodies expend and renew energy. And what we find is that it's in the emotional domain where we tend to experience a lot of emotional energy drains, a lot of losing our energy to emotions that we are going to term depleting emotions. And so as you can see here, where all four of these domains come together, at the center is the word coherence and Coherence is key.
[00:10:46.070] - Doris Bowman
Where all of these domains come together is this concept of Coherence. And Rick is going to share more about what is coherence and how does it influence our resilience and our ability to self regulate.
[00:10:59.250] - Rick Bowman
So let's define coherence. Coherence is when the nervous system, the immune system, the hormonal systems are in energetic coordination as well as the mind, the heart and the emotions. And our emotions are in sync as well. And so we're going to talk a lot about the idea that in the past we've thought about thoughts being so important and what we find is that emotions are actually faster than thoughts.
[00:11:30.360] - Rick Bowman
The way that the central nervous system is wired, the way the brain is wired is that many of our emotions then can access our autonomic nervous system and our brain before thoughts can. And so emotions are moved quicker than thoughts. And then oftentimes when we experience the emotion in our body what we then do is assign a thought to that emotion.
[00:12:03.690] - Rick Bowman
So the next thing I want to talk about is this thing called the heart-brain connection. So the heart has its own nervous system and we find that the heart actually communicates with the brain constantly. And what we know is that the heart sends more messages to the brain than the brain sends to the heart. We also know that the heart messages are always received by the brain and sometimes the heart kind of just disregards the messages from the brain.
[00:12:48.610] - Rick Bowman
Now another important point here that I want to make is that our autonomic nervous system is responsible for 90% of our bodily processes and of course the heart is connected to that autonomic nervous system. And so any emotion that we feel changes activity in the autonomic nervous system and has an effect on all of our bodily systems. So here we're not just talking about our emotions and our thinking. We're also realizing that the emotions that we have are actually affecting our health as well as our ability to self-regulate.
[00:13:37.210] - Rick Bowman
So what you're looking at here are renewing emotions and depleting emotions. And so if you look at the slide that says Coherence what we're looking at here are what we would call coherent heart rhythms. And when you are experiencing these type of heart rhythms and these heart rhythms can be measured by heart rhythm monitor what you're actually experiencing at this time are renewing emotions.
[00:14:09.490] - Rick Bowman
And when you're experiencing these coherent wavelike heart rhythm patterns then you're experiencing renewing emotions such as appreciation, gratitude, kindness, compassion, love. When that happens what actually happens is that these heart rhythms then allow the heart to send messages to the brain that synchronizes the entire brain such as the cortex and other areas of the brain. And when we have a synchronized brain then we are able to think clearly, problem solve and self-regulate our emotions.
[00:14:59.390] - Rick Bowman
Where you see these chaotic looking heart rhythms and you see the word incoherence above that when we are experiencing depleting emotions such as frustration, anger, anxiety, worry, fear then these are the type of heart rhythm patterns that we see. And these heart rhythm patterns then cause the heart to send incoherent messages to the brain.
[00:15:29.840] - Rick Bowman
And so in these situations where we're having these depleting emotions, then the brain cannot synchronize these messages. And basically what happens is we don't have full access to our cortex. And you probably know what happens when we don't have full access to our cortex, right?
[00:15:52.110] - Rick Bowman
Yeah, like driving with 1 foot on the brake and 1 foot on the gas pedal, right? And kids are like this, right? And oftentimes what we're seeing here is that the kids are experiencing these depleting emotions. Maybe it's about school, for example. Maybe it's about something that's going on at home that they dislike or they're upset about.
[00:16:19.640] - Rick Bowman
And when this is happening, they lose access to their cortex. And therefore, we see a lot of lack of regulation. And at that particular point, whether we're adults or children, we can show any type of challenging behavior.
[00:16:41.590] - Jill Stowell
Our system basically operates kind of on a spectrum. We're either in coherence, which is calm and rational, or some degree of incoherence, with the total opposite being fight or flight.
[00:16:59.050] - Jill Stowell
And so a lot of the distressing behaviors that we see in children who are overloaded are those fight or flight behaviors. Running, hiding, screaming, anger, meltdowns, or just shutting down. And as you said, when they're in that state, they're not in their rational brain. So trying to problem solve with them at that point is not really going to work.
[00:17:28.150] - Jill Stowell
And adults are like that, too. I mean, when we get overloaded, it might look a little bit different, but it's still fight or flight. Lashing out, sarcasm, the silent treatment.
[00:17:41.710] - Jill Stowell
I thought that was really interesting, what you said about the emotions being quicker than thought and our heart sending so many messages to the brain. You know, parents have been in a position in the last several months where they have had to teach their kids at home. And it sounds like in a lot of places there is still going to be remote learning when school starts. And I think so many parents you see on social media, parents just pulling their hair out and beating themselves up, that they don't feel effective teaching their kids.
[00:18:22.710] - Jill Stowell
But that emotional connection, it's so much easier for us, for teachers who are not the parent to work with kids. I remember my own son, I would try to work with him and he would, "That's not how my teacher does it!"
[00:18:47.030] - Doris Bowman
I remember that exact line.
[00:18:50.700] - Jill Stowell
This is what I do for a living. I know this.
[00:18:53.500] - Jill Stowell
But the emotional connection. So I think, absolutely learning how to be aware of it and have some control over it is going to be incredibly valuable as parents head into this new school year.
[00:19:11.280] - Jill Stowell
But thinking about that coherence or incoherence, how does that affect people around us? Because you talked a little bit about coming into a room and, wow, this person, they make me feel good. This person makes me feel agitated. How does that work?
[00:19:37.930] - Rick Bowman
Yeah, that's a great question. The thing about it is we've always said that it takes a regulated adult to regulate a child and in this case it takes a coherent adult to help a child become more coherent. And you can kind of look at coherence and regulation as in some way synonymous because you're not going to be regulated unless you're coherent. So it really has an effect.
[00:20:11.240] - Rick Bowman
I just want to show you this particular study. But before saying that, I'm going to say that our coherence, our ability to be coherent affects everybody around us, especially our children and even each other as well. And so how does this happen?
[00:20:31.570] - Rick Bowman
Well, one of the things I want to say first is that every time that our heart beats we produce electricity and our heart produces more electricity than any other organ in our body. And so when electricity is produced it always creates an electromagnetic field. Now this is just basic physics so we know that the heart creates this electromagnetic field and that magnetic field is a carrier wave of information.
[00:21:09.530] - Rick Bowman
And so in this particular study they put four people together, three of which had been trained for two weeks in how to use a strategy to become coherent. And then the fourth person down at the bottom had no training, didn't know what the study was about.
[00:21:30.880] - Rick Bowman
And they set these four people together at a table and they instructed three of the people that had been trained to go into a coherent state. It took them a minute or two to go into a coherent state even though they'd only been trained for two weeks. Once the three people went into the coherent state, guess what happened?
[00:21:51.590] - Rick Bowman
The fourth person became coherent. So it was this coherent energy, this information that they were sending out that other person was able to experience. The interesting thing about this is that as most of us know sometimes we can feel the energy of other people and whether what the research shows is we can either consciously know, feel that energy but if not consciously, we can experience it unconsciously as well.
[00:22:37.950] - Rick Bowman
So here just goes along that if we can use consistent practices we can create a new baseline for ourselves to help us become more coherent. And that coherence is going to help other people, our children, our students become more coherent and more regulated as well.
[00:23:05.490] - Rick Bowman
So basically we know that this field around us and when we are in renewing emotions we are going to be able to create a coherent field that's going to affect others. When we're in depleting emotions that's also going to affect our children and students as well. And we're going to what happens is we say that we're going to come into entrainment with each other. In other words, our emotions are going to line up with each other.
[00:23:39.420] - Doris Bowman
Can I add something real quick?
[00:23:40.580] - Rick Bowman
[00:23:41.150] - Doris Bowman
I was just thinking about this concept of baseline. When we think about creating a new baseline, we kind of think of that as it becoming your new norm. And so what it essentially refers to is that not only by using these practices consistently, not only can you become more coherent at the time you're using the practice, but it actually repatterns your nervous system so that coherent state becomes your norm. It becomes essentially like your resting state.
[00:24:14.230] - Doris Bowman
And so I think that's a big part of the power of this is that it not only gives us something to use in a crisis or in a very challenging moment. But gives us a way of over time becoming less reactionary. Becoming more regulated as our standard course of who we are and who we bring to the people that we love and care about and serve and teach.
[00:24:37.110] - Jill Stowell
Absolutely. I was teaching a seminar to educators and learning center directors and they had come from all over the country so I had some people and the seminar started at 08:00 in the morning. So I had some people who had been driving through Southern California traffic. I had some people who were from the East Coast and they had gotten in very, very late their time the night before.
[00:25:13.110] - Jill Stowell
So there was this room full of people that were at all different states of incoherence, kind of. And there was this one woman who actually lives in kind of a meditation community and in that community people spend a great deal of time meditating and being coherent, doing a lot of yoga. Amazing woman.
[00:25:45.710] - Jill Stowell
And she walked into this room with everybody chatting and a little bit agitated in their own state of sleep deprivation or whatever. She walked in and the whole room just took a breath. I mean, she didn't say a word. She walked in the room and everyone just because her natural way of being that she had developed over all these years was this calm, coherent state and it impacted the entire room. It was amazing to see for me, from the standpoint of standing in front and watching the response of everyone as she walked in.
[00:26:42.070] - Doris Bowman
I suspect that that was probably a very conscious choice on her part too. That she wasn't only being in her own coherence, that she was purposefully and we're going to talk about this and actually demonstrate, but where she was purposefully influencing others using that.
[00:27:00.280] - Doris Bowman
There's nothing woo woo again about this, right? This is not some like it's about your aura or whatever. This is literally like we can measure this with instruments that measure the electromagnetic field that comes out from someone who's extremely coherent. And I'm betting that she was purposefully, right, just influencing those around her.
[00:27:21.660] - Jill Stowell
She may very well have been. It was really fun to see. It's just such fascinating stuff. Now I'm sure that people are really anxious to hear how to build their own self regulation and coherence.
[00:27:37.610] - Jill Stowell
This is LD Expert Live. I'm Jill Stowell and today we're talking to Rick and Doris Bowman about increasing self-regulation and resilience for educators, parents and kids while also improving academic performance. So let's get to the how. How do we achieve better emotional regulation and coherence? What strategies do you have for us today?
[00:28:06.970] - Rick Bowman
Okay, we're going to show you a strategy. We're going to walk you through a strategy here in just a couple of minutes. But I want to first talk about care versus over-care. And we've kind of been talking about that.
[00:28:19.160] - Rick Bowman
So if you're teaching remotely, if you're going to be teaching online, that's going to be pretty stressful. I mean, that would be stressful for all of us. The times that we're living in right now are extremely stressful. And we know that how much parents care about their children, we know how much teachers care about their students.
[00:28:40.120] - Rick Bowman
And what we want to talk about for just a second is that oftentimes our care is balanced at first, and then we go into this thing called over-care and over-care is when we go into a state where we're experiencing stress, anxiety, fear, frustration, etc...And it's because we have shifted from really that balanced care to placing too much significance on the problem.
[00:29:26.530] - Rick Bowman
And so any time that we've shifted from care to over-care, we're experiencing some of these emotions that are depleting our energy. And when we're experiencing these type of emotions, of course we are in a state of incoherence and dysregulation.
[00:29:50.410] - Rick Bowman
So again, when we're in this state of over-care, then we lack regulation and it is again felt by the child, which results in more dysregulation of the child. And so we as parents, as teachers, can practice simple strategies and we have several of them to take the significance out of the problem so that we can approach the problem in a more coherent and regulated way.
[00:30:22.100] - Rick Bowman
And Doris mentioned this earlier, not only when we're doing this, is that we are developing a new baseline in our brain in that fight part of our brain for dealing with situations which trigger over-care responses. These over-care responses then may be related to our child, they may be related to the school, they may be related to people in our life or places or things as well. But once we use these strategies, we can actually repattern the baseline, our baseline responses of our amygdala, and become more coherent and regulated. So Doris is going to walk you through a strategy that will help with that.
[00:31:14.270] - Doris Bowman
Okay, and the strategy that we're going to share with you today is called Heart Lock-In. And like I said before, there are over a dozen strategies that pertain to specific purposes. This particular technique or strategy is often used for a couple of purposes.
[00:31:39.690] - Doris Bowman
One is to re-pattern a new nervous system baseline. That the consistent use of this over time. And we have some guidelines for what's suggested and so forth, but can re-pattern our nervous system.
[00:31:53.100] - Doris Bowman
The other is the use for co-regulation as Rick described. This is actually the technique that he would often use prior to and as he would go into a classroom setting to generate this core regulation among the students.
[00:32:08.860] - Doris Bowman
So we're going to do this Heart Lock-In technique together. And there are a couple of things I want to do as a lead into this. One is that I want to encourage you to identify before we start a renewing emotion that you feel, that you can generate and actually feel it in your heart. And so sometimes that's helpful.
[00:32:31.310] - Doris Bowman
This can be hard to do when you're first doing it in a purposeful, proactive kind of way. But often thinking of someone that you love or care about, it could be a family member, a friend, it could be a pet. Thinking of a place that you love, that you really feel joy or ease or calm when you're in that place. Maybe a past accomplishment or memory that is really positive that you're really grateful for.
[00:32:58.610] - Doris Bowman
And a couple of the emotions that seem the easiest for people to experience when they first start doing this are often appreciation, care or gratitude. So most of us can think of something that will help us generate those emotions.
[00:33:15.650] - Doris Bowman
So hopefully you can think of something here that you kind of hang on to. And we're going to walk through this process. We're going to start with what we call heart focus breathing. And essentially that is to center our attention in the area of the center of our chest where the heart area is. And we're going to focus on breathing as if we're breathing in and out of that area where our heart is. And again, that has to do with the fact that the energy that's generated from the heart having our attention there is where our energy goes.
[00:33:48.520] - Doris Bowman
And so then we're going to activate and sustain this renewing emotion and then we're going to essentially send this renewing emotion out through the electromagnetic field. Again, this is just like your cell phone guys. Nothing weird about it. Your heart is sending out an electromagnetic field that has waves just like carrier waves, just like a cell phone. And those carrier waves can carry that emotional signal, that emotional signature from your heart.
[00:34:19.270] - Doris Bowman
So we're going to walk through this process and I'll just have us hold it for about a minute when we get to the activate and sustain and radiate. And then we'll jump back in here to some more chatting.
[00:34:32.310] - Doris Bowman
But hopefully this will give you a sense of what we're talking about, how simple it is, how you can do it anywhere and yet know that it is research-backed and scientifically demonstrated to be effective. So let's go ahead and I'll invite you as long as you're not driving, please don't do this. If you're driving, I'll invite you to close your eyes. And the reason we do that again isn't because this is some spiritual practice, this is because it blocks out sensory input.
[00:35:04.250] - Doris Bowman
So we're going to close our eyes and focus our attention in the area of the heart. And if it helps you to focus there, sometimes I put my hand right there just to help me stay centered there. And so focus your attention in the area of the heart and imagine that your breath is flowing in and out of the heart area or chest area, breathing just a little bit slower and deeper than usual.
[00:35:45.750] - Doris Bowman
Now activate and sustain a regenerative or renewing emotion such as appreciation, care or compassion for someone, something that you love, a place that you love. And just really feel that emotion in your heart and sustain that feeling.
[00:36:21.970] - Doris Bowman
And now radiate that renewing feeling first throughout your entire body. Imagine it coming out from your heart throughout each of the cells of your body, each of the organs of your body to your brain. And then radiate beyond you to others that you care for, that you love, those around you, those in your community. And let's continue to sustain and radiate this for about 1 minute.
[00:37:38.510] - Doris Bowman
Okay, I'll invite you back. And so hopefully you were able to feel a little bit of a physiological shift in doing that. But what we know is that by using this practice over time that we can become very effective at establishing our own resilience, at repatterning our baseline and then also co-regulation with those around us.
[00:38:12.390] - Jill Stowell
Well, I feel amazing now. Thank you for that. This would be an amazing way to start a class, whether you're on site or remote with a zoom class or something. Just to acknowledge that we have to be kind of distanced from each other right now, but we can give this gift to ourselves and each other wherever we are.
[00:39:05.830] - Doris Bowman
That sense of connection that everyone's longing for right now, right?
[00:39:09.560] - Jill Stowell
Absolutely. That was amazing.
[00:39:12.230] - Doris Bowman
And I would say to Jill that you don't have to close your eyes to do this. It can be done anywhere. You could do it in the middle of a classroom of kids and just stand in a spot for a few seconds and just do this process. Or I used to do it often in my car driving between two schools, right?
[00:39:30.200] - Doris Bowman
I know I'm going through a challenging situation and I just begin using this practice eyes open so it can be used anywhere in any setting, which is one of the wonderful and powerful things about it is that you don't have to go off to a retreat, you don't have to have a whole hour to go take a break somewhere and it's still very effective.
[00:39:51.450] - Rick Bowman
And by the way, some families do this before they have a meal together or they just sit down in the evening before they go to bed and they do some HearthMath strategies so that everybody is coherent and regulated because it is extremely helpful with sleep as well.
[00:40:11.770] - Jill Stowell
Yes, I can see how that would be. I was thinking about how sometimes kids and parents just get into automatic patterns of response like as soon as it's school time or homework time. The child maybe gets whiny and whether the work is hard or not. It's just sort of a pattern that they've built up and then things escalate because we're in a pattern and it's really encouraging to hear you say that we can repattern some things. But can you talk a little bit about how this might apply to a situation like that?
[00:40:56.410] - Doris Bowman
Yes, absolutely. And so I think this kind of leads into a little bit about the strategy we wanted to share from Collaborative Problem Solving. And so I know Jill shared that we are Collaborative Problem Solving trainers and train this approach to educators and mental health clinicians and other folks who work with families and children, even adults.
[00:41:22.390] - Doris Bowman
I think one of the most powerful things, Jill, with what you're talking about is that if we as the adult can engage in a new pattern of interaction that can break that established pattern of, "Okay. It's time to do your math assignment." And the child immediately starts moving into because they have this anticipation, and it's this very patterned response and interaction that takes place and generally maybe it's let's say escalating into I'd rather go into an emotional response, than I don't really have the skills and what it takes to handle the frustration of this work, for example.
[00:42:03.140] - Doris Bowman
And so by engaging a child in this sequence of engagement that we see here on the slide, this is what we call a proactive plan B in Collaborative Problem Solving. And what you can see is that there are three steps to this interaction starting at the bottom and moving our way up. And the reason they start at the bottom and move their way up is that it follows in the brain.
[00:42:26.930] - Doris Bowman
We have to start with that lower brain and regulating the child before we can move on to talking about the concerns and trying to solve the problem. In this plan B interaction then what we are doing is we are first coming in with empathy and saying "Gosh, I can see something about this is really hard for you. Can you help me understand?"
[00:42:49.990] - Doris Bowman
And they may at first be like, this is not the way you normally interact with me. And it may take a few times before they trust that, no, you really are genuinely interested in understanding what's hard for them. Then we share our adult concerns.
[00:43:06.590] - Doris Bowman
So they may say, well, it's just math always takes me too long. Okay, so it feels like it takes a really long time. Yeah, I mean, it feels like it takes forever. Wow, I hear you. That would be really hard. I can see why that could be frustrating. And so my concern is that if we don't get through the math, you might fall behind. And when you fall behind, that feels really stressful. It can be really frustrating.
[00:43:34.330] - Doris Bowman
And so I'm wondering if there's a way and then you move to step number three, that we can come up with a solution for this, an idea that we can try that would meet your concern of this seems like it takes forever. And my concern is if you don't get the work done, then you might fall further behind.
[00:43:57.750] - Doris Bowman
Or this could be about chores. This could be taking out the trash. And their concern is they don't like to go outside after dark and take the trash out because after dinner it's dark. And your concern is that the kitchen gets kind of stinky and it affects everybody in the family.
[00:44:13.760] - Doris Bowman
So now we're collaborating, but the important thing to understand is this is not negotiating and this is not compromising. Our solution needs to meet the concerns of both the child and the parent, or the child and the teacher.
[00:44:29.890] - Doris Bowman
But the really powerful thing about this is that in the process of engaging in this pattern, not only are we working to solve the issue, but we are actually activating the neural pathways in the brain that are involved in the neurocognitive skills that the child may be lagging in or lacking.
[00:44:48.730] - Doris Bowman
So their flexibility, their ability to tolerate frustration, their ability to stick with a task, their ability to ignore irrelevant things going on around them, their ability to problem solve.
[00:45:02.820] - Doris Bowman
We know that we have a lot of research to back up the fact that this particular very simple process, but has some real uniquenesses and complexities to it as well, can take you to that place of being able to solve the problems, but also building those skills and really increasing the child's skill set over time.
[00:45:26.140] - Doris Bowman
I always like to ask folks, parents and kids, do you want to be following him around when he's 29, solving his problems for him? And if you don't, we need to build those skills. And so taking an approach that builds the skills is very empowering and proactive.
[00:45:41.770] - Jill Stowell
Absolutely. I love that. That was so helpful. Thank you so much. Man, that was good stuff. I mean, if there was ever a time when we all need strategies for emotional control and supporting the people in our lives better, it's now. Rick and Doris have a handout for you with all the information we talked about and more, and you can get that by going to stowellcenter.com/bowman. Thank you so much, rick and Dorris.
[00:00:00.850] - Lauren Ma
I think she's talking about her son. She said that he's always last to finish work, even though he's very verbally smart. And let me tell you, we have quite a community of parents that know exactly what that's like with their own children.
[00:00:14.570] - Lauren Ma
If you've seen some of our previous broadcasts where we talk about the continuum. We make that connection that intelligence doesn't necessarily mean that a student can be successful.
[00:00:27.620] - Lauren Ma
Learning challenges have nothing to do with intelligence. So there are underlying skills that could be contributing to her son struggling. And so I would really encourage Helen for you to join our Mom Squad, ask that question, get some advice from the people in the group.
[00:00:45.640] - Lauren Ma
But definitely when you have a situation like that where it just doesn't make sense. You know your child's smart. He's not as successful as you think he should be in school. It's probably an underlying skill deficit.
[00:00:58.210] - Lauren Ma
So I do have a question from a teacher for Rick and Doris, a teacher in a local school district probably LAUSD because they just made an announcement yesterday that they're staying remote. So she's saying that their district is staying remote next year, or at least for the first half of the year.
[00:01:18.030] - Lauren Ma
Is this idea of coherence something that can be translated remotely via video if we're not in the same room for not in the presence of somebody with great coherence? Can you still transmit that to your students if you're teaching remotely?
[00:01:37.790] - Rick Bowman
Do you want me to answer that?
[00:01:39.180] - Doris Bowman
Yes, go ahead and I'll chime in.
[00:01:42.440] - Rick Bowman
So we know that there is this field around us, this electromagnetic field, and we can measure it to about 8ft out. But Heartmath Institute has been doing a lot of work in this particular area. There's a belief that we don't have the instruments yet to really measure this, sensitive enough to measure the length of the field. There are studies that are going on in what we call non-local coherence.
[00:02:20.610] - Rick Bowman
And I'm just going to give you my opinion. My opinion is, yes, that coherence can be transmitted. In other words, of course, I don't have an instrument that can measure that. But I would say that if you were on a zoom call, if you are teaching remotely, that the children that you're working with can really feel your emotions, that they can really have a sense. My guess is that it can be very helpful.
[00:02:58.890] - Doris Bowman
Just an example I'll give you, that I bet every one of us can relate to. And then I'm going to make a suggestion for you. I bet all of us can think of a time where someone that we are close to, a family member, our child, a close friend. You just had a feeling like you knew something was either wrong.
[00:03:21.130] - Doris Bowman
We had an experience where Rick was out fishing with a friend of ours and I just all of a sudden just knew, like, something wasn't right. And yes, they almost sank, actually in the boat out in the middle of a river. But anyway, I knew without any communication from him, and even though we weren't in the same space, that I knew that something was wrong.
[00:03:47.770] - Doris Bowman
We all heard stories of parents who are late at night and their teenagers are not home, and they know that, like, they just have that feeling. And so that is what we think of as really this non local sort of transmission of emotional connection, especially with people that we have a strong connection with.
[00:04:04.970] - Doris Bowman
I think as teachers, one of the things that I would really encourage you is that if you learn some of these practices and we're going to demonstrate one today, but there's more than a dozen practices that can be used for certain purposes that there are even something that you could use with a student at the start of a learning session.
[00:04:23.770] - Doris Bowman
If you're a special educator and you're doing one-on-one or one-on-three, or even with a whole class of kids on a screen and zoom, we have facilitated and been part of many zoom communities where we're using these practices. And really the heart connection is there. It really creates this connectedness and bondedness.
[00:04:45.670] - Doris Bowman
And so I would say at the beginning of a session, I would create a practice of doing just a quick two minute coherence practice that we will share one with you today. We don't have time to share more, but I think that would be beneficial to the learning process and help them get in a state prepared where their brain is more right in sync and prepared to learn.
[00:05:10.690] - Rick Bowman
And I think the next thing that we are going to talk about is going to be very helpful to you as well in terms of your own coherence and your own regulation and your own health, as this is stressful to do.
[00:05:27.370] - Lauren Ma
I do have one more question from a teacher before we transition, and it kind of also has to do with this collective coherence, but a teacher that is in special education, and I've definitely experienced this when I was a classroom teacher.
[00:05:43.280] - Lauren Ma
I started out at the learning center. One-on-one, you have that great relationship with your student, and then all of a sudden you go into a classroom and now you have 25 different, all different zones of regulation and coherence and kind of all these different little balls of energy.
[00:06:00.410] - Lauren Ma
And so the teacher is saying, my kids seem to feed off each other. Definitely a dynamic we see in the classroom. If one gets upset, the other kids get agitated too, and they feed off of each other's energy. How can a teacher help to avoid that?
[00:06:16.390] - Doris Bowman
Can I answer this?
[00:06:18.370] - Rick Bowman
Okay, I want you to.
[00:06:23.510] - Doris Bowman
So what you're describing is entrainment. And the really cool thing is you can use this to your advantage. And so when we're reacting to it happening, if this one goes off tasks and then starts escalating or something, the other follows. That's an example of entrainment.
[00:06:40.790] - Doris Bowman
But if we get proactive and we start working with the kids that maybe have better regulation and working on having these rituals of being coherent as a group, what will happen is the kids that struggle more will start to entrain to the kids that are actually more coherent.
[00:06:59.320] - Doris Bowman
And so I wish I had like an hour just to talk about this, but by getting proactive and thinking about, okay, how can I drive the train on this instead of running up as the caboose? Right. And trying to get on top of it as it starts to go off the rails, I think that we can use it to our advantage. So hopefully that's the nutshell version.
[00:07:23.770] - Rick Bowman
So I don't really have anything to add to that except that once you, as Doris said, if you can get some of your kids, if you as a teacher are in a state of coherence and self regulation that's going to spread to your kids, they're going to be entrained.
[00:07:42.370] - Rick Bowman
As Doris said, they're going to become more regulated. Their regulation then is affecting other kids regulation. And the first thing you know, you've got a class that is regulated.
[00:07:54.430] - Rick Bowman
And just so I've seen this last year, I would go into classrooms and I would talk to the teachers about regulation and I would pull groups together and I would go into a state of coherence before I went into the group. And the teachers were amazed at how calm and regulated their kids were, especially those kids that had serious behavioral issues or trauma histories.
[00:08:26.270] - Lauren Ma
Ronke was contributing and she has some questions specifically about older individuals. So she has an 18 year old and she was just asking could this be a strategy to help her daughter who's 18, who's older? And it sounds like Ronke is also a professor of some sort. She teaches graduate students. Is this a strategy that we can also use with grad students that are also going through their own degree of stress right now in a learning model?
[00:08:59.410] - Rick Bowman
Yes, there's actually some studies on graduate students and so it absolutely can be used with graduate students as well.
[00:09:09.370] - Lauren Ma
So it's kind of any age. This is beneficial for anybody who tried the demonstration right now. We all kind of felt an emotional, cognitive shift. I noticed something that in me or just in you guys, your voice changes the rate in which we speak because we made some kind of an emotional shift, mental shift. So fascinating. So really you're saying it can be used with any age, not just not just kids.
[00:09:40.910] - Lauren Ma
And then Sharon is asking she in regards to teenagers who deal with a lot of regulation issues, just naturally, biologically, they're going through a lot and have difficulty self regulating. Is this something that we should be incorporating in our schools? Either a mindfulness program?
[00:10:01.490] - Lauren Ma
Yoga could be one approach. It doesn't have to be the exact answer, but some kind of mindfulness training for teenagers that are in grades eight and above because they're dealing with so much dysregulation, just biologically and emotionally, just as part of the natural teenage years.
[00:10:21.230] - Doris Bowman
Yeah, we actually work with schools to set up what we call a proactive regulation room or a proactive wellness room. And it doesn't require setting up an after school program or anything that really stretches school resources at all. But it really means just taking a more proactive approach and working at instead of a plan for when kids struggle.
[00:10:43.220] - Doris Bowman
This is a plan for them to spend five minutes using this piece of feedback technology that we have. For example. That will help kids work on where they can see and there are even some games they can use and then see where their regulation is and gradually improving their regulation.
[00:11:00.810] - Doris Bowman
Or it can be done as a whole class. And so I think the key thing is to become proactive about it, right? That it's a lot less effective if we're doing it in a reactive situation, but absolutely any age, any setting. And one of the things we love about it is that it's very simple and time efficient.
[00:11:26.540] - Jill Stowell
And it's based on a way that we as humans operate. So it's a fit for anybody. Thank you again. To Doris and Rick. I encourage everyone to use that Heart Lock-In strategy that was amazing and the problem solving. I'll bet every one of you know somebody who's benefit from this, so please share.
- Episode 70: The IEP – What Parents Need to Know – Dina Kaplan
- Episode 69: Embracing Differences and Building Social Emotional Health – Suzanne McClure
- Episode 68 – Executive Function Tips for Parents, Teachers, and Students + T.E.F.O.S. – Part 2 – Seth Perler
- Episode 67 – The Executive Function Online Summit PLUS a Special Message for Kids – Part 1 – Seth Perler
- Episode 66 – Auditory Processing and Managing Anxiety – Jill Stowell on the Re-Focus Podcast with Angela Stephens
Listen, Watch and Subscribe
Subscribe to the LD Expert podcast in your preferred player and sign up for our weekly newsletter. Get the answers and proven solutions for dyslexia, learning differences and attention challenges sent directly to your inbox.