Applied Educational Neuroscience and Relational Discipline

In our schools and communities, we are facing an unprecedented time where the effects of chronic unpredictability and isolation have intimately impacted our educator and student population along with families and communities.  Research on the pandemic’s effect on mental health is still in the early stages, but current evidence shows a surge in anxiety and depression among children and adolescents. From March 2020 through October 2020, the share of mental health-related hospital emergency department visits rose 24% for children ages 5-11 and 31% among adolescents ages 12-17, when compared to the same period in 2019. Our nervous systems and physiological states create and produce the behaviors we observe, question, discuss, punish, suspend, seclude, and attend to in all moments throughout the day!  

As educators who sit with 30 to 180 plus nervous systems every day, we have traditionally paid attention to observable behaviors, assessing them as appropriate, disrespectful, inappropriate, oppositional, aggressive, manipulative, and a variety of other labels and classifications. Discipline is about the adults and traditional discipline protocols do not address the underlying needs of children and youth who carry in pain-based behaviors. In this three-day workshop, we will address the routines and procedures that prime and prepare the nervous system for calm regulation! When we meet our students with conditions of safety and connection, they move from a survival state to one that is open, curious, and calm. 

We will address the practices that create new circuits in the brain and body, down regulating fear while upregulating the emotions of stability, safety, and calm. This can be an endurance event. The brain and body learn from patterned repetitive experiences. The only way I can begin to repair it with a child or youth, is to check in with my own nervous system knowing how contagious emotions are and to have awareness of my changing nervous system states.  Our goal is not always about being regulated and calm, but to recognize when we are not! Therapist Deb Dana shares that our emotional, mental, and physiological health benefits when we befriend our nervous systems. The goal is to recognize when we are stuck in dysregulation and our bodies feel the sensations of growing irritation, unrest, and negative emotion. Often, we can become stuck in our own emotional cycles and stress responses so that we are unable to access and share that state of calm reflection with our students. 

 In this short video, you will see how we are implementing breath and movement in our morning meetings, brain aligned bell work and transitions throughout the day as we teach our students what is occurring in their nervous systems as we move through each day. Focused Attention Practices are part of our procedures and routines. Use the QR reader on your phone to see examples!

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If you would like to learn more from Dr. Lori Desautels and the members of the EQ by Design team, be sure to check out a sneak preview of our upcoming conference below:

Want to learn more about the EQ by Design Fall Institute or attend the event on October 9th and October 16th?

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