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Ep. 126: Leah Kuypers - Get in the Zone!

October 07, 2020 Sucheta Kamath Season 1 Episode 126
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Ep. 126: Leah Kuypers - Get in the Zone!
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Full PreFrontal
Ep. 126: Leah Kuypers - Get in the Zone!
Oct 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 126
Sucheta Kamath

Every Halloween, when the late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel invites parents to video tape lying to their children having eaten all of their Halloween candy, it never fails to produce funny, hilarious, and some heart-wrenching videos of kids having officially lost their mind over the prank. However, it’s truly astonishing to find a kid or two who mange to stay calm and collected in the face of candy-distress. It is reasonable to ask how children regulate themselves during a conflict or disappointments of everyday life and bring themselves in the zone of an emotionally balanced internal state. 

On this episode, Sucheta interviews author and creator of the Zones of Regulation® framework, Occupational Therapist, and autism specialist, Leah Kuypers, who talks about the benefits of the cultivated ability to achieve a preferred state of alertness that corresponds to the context where one has to act and behave. By figuring out and knowing the science of how the body and emotions are interconnected everyone can stay calm and carry on.  

About Leah Kuypers
Leah Kuypers earned a Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Graduate Certificate in Autism and a Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.  She has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specializing in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. 

Leah created The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com), a framework designed to teach self-regulation, and is author of the book and two apps by same name (2011, Social Thinking Publishing; 2013, 2016 Selosoft, Inc). In addition to working with students, she provides trainings and consultation to parents and professionals on self-regulation and challenging behavior, as well as conducts workshops on the Zones to groups across the world.  She resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son, daughter and dog.

Website:

Books/Materials:

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Show Notes Transcript

Every Halloween, when the late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel invites parents to video tape lying to their children having eaten all of their Halloween candy, it never fails to produce funny, hilarious, and some heart-wrenching videos of kids having officially lost their mind over the prank. However, it’s truly astonishing to find a kid or two who mange to stay calm and collected in the face of candy-distress. It is reasonable to ask how children regulate themselves during a conflict or disappointments of everyday life and bring themselves in the zone of an emotionally balanced internal state. 

On this episode, Sucheta interviews author and creator of the Zones of Regulation® framework, Occupational Therapist, and autism specialist, Leah Kuypers, who talks about the benefits of the cultivated ability to achieve a preferred state of alertness that corresponds to the context where one has to act and behave. By figuring out and knowing the science of how the body and emotions are interconnected everyone can stay calm and carry on.  

About Leah Kuypers
Leah Kuypers earned a Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a Graduate Certificate in Autism and a Master of Arts in Education from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN.  She has practiced as an OT/autism specialist in school and clinical settings, specializing in self-regulation and social learning, and has worked with students of all ages and challenges, including anxiety, ADHD, and ASD. 

Leah created The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com), a framework designed to teach self-regulation, and is author of the book and two apps by same name (2011, Social Thinking Publishing; 2013, 2016 Selosoft, Inc). In addition to working with students, she provides trainings and consultation to parents and professionals on self-regulation and challenging behavior, as well as conducts workshops on the Zones to groups across the world.  She resides in Minneapolis, MN with her husband, son, daughter and dog.

Website:

Books/Materials:

About Host, Sucheta Kamath
Sucheta Kamath, is an award-winning speech-language pathologist, a TEDx speaker, a celebrated community leader, and the founder and CEO of ExQ®. As an EdTech entrepreneur, Sucheta has designed ExQ's personalized digital learning curriculum/tool that empowers middle and high school students to develop self-awareness and strategic thinking skills through the mastery of Executive Function and social-emotional competence.

Support the show (https://mailchi.mp/7c848462e96f/full-prefrontal-sign-up)

Sucheta Kamath: Welcome back to Full PreFrontal where we dissect executive function into bite sized chunks. And today, we will be talking about one important aspect of executive function, which is social emotional regulation, and how we manage ourselves and those who depend on us. And it's really important that we not limit ourselves to a particular way of thinking about executive function, when we think about the term executive function sounds very technical, and through those who have been listening to this podcast for a long time, know that executive function is lot more, or has relevance to every single aspect of our life, a gentle nudge. If you haven't already done that, please subscribe to our newsletter, and also like us on social media, and do download or subscribe to this, the app store where Full PreFrontal is. And finally, if you like it, share it with your friends, we always love to have more audience. So today is a very, very special day because I have a dear colleague who specializes in this very area. And that's Leah Kuypers. And I'm going to tell you a little bit about her. So, Leah is an occupational therapist, and she graduated from Wisconsin Madison, and she has a certificate in autism and Master of Arts in Education from Hamlin University. She has been in practice and specializes with autism and works in schools in clinical setting. And she has done some incredible work with something called Zones of Regulation. And she is very well known in our field and we celebrate her work for bringing a framework that's tangible and understandable and brings great a very concrete and something that even educators can deploy in their classrooms. So, it's a great pleasure to have you Leah, how are you?

Leah Kuypers: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here. And I'm doing okay, for now. It's day three of distant learning for my kids. So, you know, the Zones I'm kind of in the yellow. Just a lot going on and feeling a little a little stressed but managing.

Sucheta Kamath: So, Well, I hope your zone improves after this conversation, because you will be in your green zone as you talk about your expertise. So, I love to ask this question of my guests that since we talk about executive function and self-regulation, and you and I will be talking about emotional regulation. Tell us a little bit about you. And what kind of executive brain do you have? And would you consider yourself to have high executive function skills and emotionally regulated person or you came into it as you do?

Leah Kuypers: This is fabulous. Because no one has ever asked me this question before and it's fun to think about, um, you know, growing up school came pretty easy to me. And as I've become a mother and moved into my midlife years, I feel like my executive functions have waned a little bit. It's harder for me to stay organized and focused, I feel much more scattered in my line of thinking and harder to kind of have that persistence to work through things that are not as inviting to me as some preferred activities. So, I feel like I have to work harder at it now than I used to. I also rolling up Um, there's a few times in my head that spanned out where I really lost my temper and it was a little out of character for me, but I really didn't like that feeling of having that loss of control. And I have As an adult, I would say grown much better at regulating. I most people describe me as pretty calm and even keeled. That, you know, as a mother, as a wife, I do lose my patience sometimes. And you know, the stressors that come with living us sometimes pile up and become a little bit more than I want to manage. And we can manage so on you know, no one's perfect.

Sucheta Kamath: Yeah, it's so interesting. I'm glad that you took the time to answer this. Because, you know, when we put our professional hats, we almost leave our personal hats, I guess aside and don't bring our humaneness other than really acknowledging another person's suffering, I guess we are really trained well, to do that. I, in the pandemic has taught us and taught me a lot about my own relationship to that emotional quotient, which I too I'm very even keel and very positive and cheerful person. But I we play cards every night as a family. My mom lives with us and one of the things as a family we do, I have a little bit older kids than you do. They have finished college, just finished. And both have just started working. But I have realized this one particular activity in my life, which is playing card games drives me insane. I become incredibly competitive. I become very upset. When I lose, I blame people. I am very aggressive. And so, my grownup adult children were shocked to see this monster. So yes, I think it was all well contained, until we started playing cards viciously. And, and so for this, ever since the pandemic, so March 23rd, I think we started a notebook now in which we keep record of every game we have played. And so, we accidentally it started that way. But it's told me a lot the number of times I lost my cool. So yes. So, tell us a little bit about how do you define executive function as an occupational therapist and the way what's the relationship between self-regulation and executive function in your mind?

Leah Kuypers: Yeah, well, that's when you say, as an occupational therapist, I think back then, I was working as an OT before anyone ever called it executive functioning. So that was something I really pursued. More training and education and as a complement to the work I was already doing, as a professional, seeing the gap in some of my students’ abilities to function. And that processing, in that prefrontal lobe was just, I feel a really important part of that puzzle for them. So, I always explain it. And it's the thinking behind the dueling, the governor of our actions, and there's so many executive functions to define. But when we can pair that with that, you know, emotions, amygdala, and our brain and have that communication between that caveman, reptilian brain and then those executive functions to weigh in and help us manage the maybe impulse to lash out or the put in reason so that we can rationalize what would be a more objective response in the situation or think through and problem solve, what our outcomes might look like, you know, then we can have that controlled emotional response as well. And so, there's certainly a role for that caveman amygdala response, and that has served us well as humans and survival. But we live in a fairly safe world that we don't always need to be reacting with that part of that. No caveman response for survival. So that executive function comes in to really help guide us and make sense of the world around us so we can figure out how to express ourselves in a more adaptive way. In today's world.

Sucheta Kamath: I love that so you're talking about this. Not just governing your own behaviors by reflecting and thinking, but also creating that ownership of those behaviors because it impacts the world in which we habitate. So, tell us a little bit more about dysregulation, then when you know, you and I know this, that executive function skills are on a trajectory of development. So, a six-year-old is less proficient than a nine-year-old. But if you take all the six-year old’s, they are going to be some who emerge with better relatively better skills. And then if you take all the collective nine-year old’s, some are going to be better. How do you see that in the context of learning and education? When understand these discrepancies, and what's the burden? Where should we keep the burden on those who have those good skills and continue to, you know, growth faster or forward? Or really focus on those who fall behind? I don't know, even it's not a fair question. But you know what I mean, because I feel there's like, I often tell my educators and parents that the students with good self-regulation and good executive function make other kids look bad. But it's not something it's just the way the brain is developing, everybody's going to catch up. But right, another two, right. And

Leah Kuypers: I think that last piece, you just said that the brain is developing. And when we can shift the lens in which we look at regulation, and see it in a developmental lens, I find it helps people provide a lot more empathy for these kids who are just lagging in that skill set. And that we have an empathetic lens when we look at kids who have academic delays, or articulation, language, delays, motor impairments. And so, when we have a different vantage point of how we're seeing these kids and can recognize them for where their skill set is at, and not try to compare them to their peers, but developmentally acknowledge, here's where their skills lie. And what would be an achievable step forward for them to set our goals on. We can start looking at them then in and working with them, teaming together to support that development. So that it's not that they have to catch up to their peers, but we're helping them build a skill set so that they can be more adaptive and functional, in their environments around them. So, there was a lot in that question. I don't know if I got it all.

Sucheta Kamath: I think you did. And, and I think I really, I see a compassionate perspective there, which is really giving everybody a fair shot at their own development, which is such an important thing. Sometimes I see this, and I don't know, if you see this, in my private practice, there's a lot of pressure parents put on their children to somehow expedite their developmental trajectory. Yeah, which is delayed,

Leah Kuypers: It's recognizing that we all have strengths, and we all have weaknesses. And, you know, some of us are born with, you know, the connectivity isn't there in the brain for this child in the regulation, skill set. Ah, and some kids have had adverse childhood experiences. And we know that that also impacts that brain development and leads to the social emotional, cognitive impairments at a higher percentage than kids who haven't had those adverse experiences in their childhood. And so they too can have been these regulation challenges, that we really can look at this neurobiological underpinning and shifted away from this behavior focus and look at the development and how we can be addressing that like we would with any other you know, skill or developmental area so

Sucheta Kamath: Great. So, this may sound redundant, but tell us what do you think when you say when we say the term emotions, what comes to mind? How do you define emotions and why do we lose control?

Leah Kuypers: Yeah, I think emotions is, I think of it as a label we put on these feelings that are within us. So, we actually up all these signals the sensations from our body, and that gives us then this emotion that we can express or label cognitively. And when we are able to recognize what it is that we're feeling, then that helps us figure out, do I need to regulate this feeling? So, I see it as part of the process of building that emotional awareness of how I feel. Based on a lot on this interoceptive sense, OT's are excited about this innate sense that we talk about now. 

Sucheta Kamath: Can you describe them for our listeners?

Leah Kuypers: Yeah. So enteroception is this awareness of what's going on inside your body? What are your organs communicating to you? And so that's as simple as you know, I'm hot, I'm cold, my bladder is full, my tummy is telling me I'm hungry, my body's letting me know I'm getting tired. It's also that emotional Foundation, meta foundation for emotional awareness as sometimes you think about right before you start to cry, most of us feel this like lump in our throat starting to swell up and we know the tears are going to be coming. Or, you know, for me, and I get this tightness in my neck and shoulders, and it feels like a weight is on my chest. And I know I'm having some anxiety. It's the flutters in the tummy, letting me know I'm nervous. So when we can read the signals in the body, it precipitates us then being able to label that emotion that we're experiencing, which then allows us to determine, do I need to manage this feeling and what's going to be my strategy or tools to do so?

Sucheta Kamath: You know, it's so interesting to me. And I've been on a lot of teams, as a rehab specialist working with TBI and strokes, that it's the team of us, you know, OT, PT, and speech working together. It's interesting, OT always has this anchored in the body. And we tend to be very cerebral thinking of our thoughts and words and, language, which is great. And that's why we complement our work complements so well. Tell us a little bit about this, the idea that you're talking about the emotions and so emotions of thoughts that are created, and then the thoughts are, can be palpable that you can perceive them you their signals, and one of the goals that you are identifying here is to really develop a very keen sense of picking up on those signals. What, why is this so hard? Why is this not part of normal conversation? Like you and I talk so much more in depth about processes involved in being who we are, that when I step out of my office, or when I'm in commonplace, like at a party, nobody really knows how words are even put together? Or how word retrieval works? Right? Right. Why are we so not attuned to emotions having a body base?

Leah Kuypers: Ah, you know, maybe it's just because we're all fine, right?

Sucheta Kamath: So, we think.

Leah Kuypers: Yeah, I think there's this cultural, just expectation, you know, that we don't go into the depth of really talking about how we feel. You know, and I think one nice thing about this pandemic, is that it's finally Okay, not to be okay. Um, and that people are talking a little more openly about what those feelings are. But it has been more of a closed subject that it's just not part. You know, we talk about the weather, we talk about our kids going back to school, but a lot of people are very tight lipped and uncomfortable when we start getting into the feelings that we experience. And they're rather walled off about it. Ah, so that certainly then works, any conversation deeper about it. Ah, but I hope that with the work I'm doing, we are starting to break down some of those barriers and make it a comfortable climate to have more open, open conversations about what it is we're feeling which builds empathy and support co regulation between us. Because there is so much life throws at us and when we can have been building those support networks and those relationships, it's just so lovely to have, you know, those people beside you to help you through the challenges that the day brings? So

Sucheta Kamath: Yeah, the Midwest effect, the stiff upper lip. Yeah, world is very, very guarded about. And, you know, Brenee Brown's work she, where she talks about vulnerability is, is that recognizing and acknowledging the weaker side, the softer side, the vulnerable side of us, is also very complimentary to what you're saying. So, it's interesting. I don't know if you know, about every Halloween, Jimmy Kimmel does this segment called "Hey, Jimmy, I told my kids I ate all the candy." So, I thought I'll bring that up, because it just captures incredible range of emotional responses of children. And particularly those who don't work in the classrooms or don't have children can really understand that you have a nine-year-old or 11-year-old throwing a tantrum, and then there's a five-year-old counseling the parent, it's going to be okay. One of my favorites is, there were these two kids one, one kid is two and a half, and the other one is five. And the parents tell that they ate the candy. And the older one folds his arms and says, Mom, you know, it's really bad for you. Two bags, you ate all two bags? So bad mom. So, he's pulling the parents. And the other ones. The little kid says, Mom, two plus two is five. And the older one whispers No, it's actually four. But you're right, mom, you ate too much. So, this is the like the best response I have seen under duress. So, let's talk about zones. This is really all about having the best response under duress. So what you came up with this idea of zones of regulation, talk to us about what's the story behind it and why did you see the need for you to frame it the way you have and then tell us more about how it's designed.

Leah Kuypers: There's so if you're not familiar with the Zones of Regulation, it is just an easy way to think about talk about cognitively recognize the way we're feeling, and we categorize those feelings into these four colored zones. So, the Blue Zone is when our energy is low or our feelings are down like sad, sick, tired, bored. The Green Zone is when we're in a more calm, controlled state. And we put more neutral emotions there like happy content, focused, proud, okay. And we put emotions that become a little bit more intense, or when our energy becomes elevated. Those are in the yellow zone. But I think the hallmark of the yellow zone is we still are able to tap into those executive functions. When we're in that yellow zone state versus the red zone state also has intense emotions. But these are the big overwhelming ones like terrified, panicked. Think about being elated or ecstatic, overjoyed about something angered, irate, aggressive. So, uh, you know, and that doesn't have to have a negative sense. I get really aggressive too when I play competitive things. So, I completely relate to you in that my kids just said something to me, we were playing this like pool game with my mom and dad and my, my kids are seven and 10 in the pool. And it's essentially kind of like football in the pool. It's called watermelon ball or something like that. And I was into it, and they were like, mommy was like this monster came up. Like, I've never seen you so aggressive. But, um, so yeah, sometimes, you know, all the zones are okay, and we all go through the different zones, it's learning to be able to recognize where your feelings are at and then the zones gives you this framework to pair your tools with that. So, when I'm in the red zone, my tools are going to look different than say when I'm in the Blue Zone. I have different regulation strategies that I would use. And I created this based on my work in public schools and seeing so many who struggled with regulation be subjected to so many punitive practices yet not gain any skills to do anything differently. And so, I have to say a lot of memories are at the time they were what were driving me and keeping me awake at night is just kids being restrained and secluded.

Sucheta Kamath: Give us an example or share a story of it. 

Leah Kuypers: So, it's the kid like, I give this example when I speak, but yeah, so as the OT, I would pick up a student and bring them to my calming or my sensory motor closet, essentially. And we would get this kid in this nice, calm, regulated state, ah, as we did a sensory work to help the nervous system get more organized and bring him back to class. And if he couldn't quickly fall into the routine, and the teacher might have given a prompt like, oh, We're on problem seven in math. Well, they started a math without him, and he's behind. And so now he's having this emotional reaction, maybe based on the anxiety, or the frustration of missing out or whatnot. And now the teachers looking at me, like, what are you going to do now? And I'm looking at the teacher, like, I did my stuff, what are you going to do? And it turns out, there's just a lot of adults looking at each other. Meanwhile, the kid might be ripping up paper, knocking over desks, and if he didn't quickly comply, and then we have timeout staff, you know, here comes the walkie talkies. And we need backup and room 212 or something. And so now this kid is being potentially restrained, missing time in the classroom may be brought to the timeout room, or we even had a locked timeout room, because this was an all special ed school for a while, this was determined as their least restrictive environment because their behavior needs were typically higher than their peers. And so, they needed a highly specialized education, educational environment. But that didn't mean a for me that they couldn't learn these skills. Um, and so I just really wanted to find a way to help keep these kids from continually being restrained and brought to timeout and missing out so much on that classroom environment where most of them wanted to be if they had the skill set to do it. And so I want it to be easy enough that my kids who had cognitive impairments who had language deficits, a tool that they could use and communicate and make sense of, as well as I had high school age kids who were, you know, going to be entering the real world in a matter of a year or two. And they're still being tapped on their shoulder by their aid being told they need to take a break. And I kept thinking, like, the only break these kids are going to get in the real world is a lunch break. And if their employers having to tap them to say, calm down, there's no way that you know, they have these tools to be successful in the real world. And so that felt, to me, that we were failing them. And so, it really unsettled was unsettling to me that we would be working so hard to prepare them in reading and math, writing skills, and yet they don't have the skills to even hold a job because of their dysregulation. So, so it's kind of a combination of just having this caseload of really intense needs and trying to figure out something that would work for my young ones as well as my old ones. No, I think with the zones, what some people don't see is that it really just gives us a way to think and so with the high school, secondary age population, we can teach it visually and present the four colors but what we're instilling is just a cognitive framework to make sense of how you're feeling and give them essentially a pathway to regulate them in each of their zones. So that's something that can stay with them forever, even if other people don't know the zones they can think, in the zones.

Sucheta Kamath: And what I really appreciate in having used it referenced it, I recommend it. Is Yeah, I think what's so first of all, I think this fundamental step in emotional regulation is label it. And so, this giving a concrete label, but it's not abstract label. So there are labels talking about anger, anger sounds very, I think accusatory, but if you just say red is red zone, and zone kind of includes a lot of things including feeling anger, feeling aggression, feeling terror, terror, I think it's just a way to kind of one eventually tapping on their own shoulders, I think I really like that transitioning process there. And the second part I really like is there's an embedded level of alertness, I think we, we saw need to know, if I'm depleting my energy is gone, like, after having a massive like tantrum, you're going to be exhausted. So, from Red Zone, you're not going to go to green, you're going to actually go to blue. You know, so feeling depleted, and what am I going to do to redirect my attention. So, in, for example, the work I do, I see really high functioning folks. So, they are not in trouble, severe trouble, or they're not losing it, they have kind of managed those pieces. But they're never in the green zone, that's their problem, they're always teetering towards blue, or always teetering towards the yellow over, they are frustrated, or they are blamed for or, or they're just lethargic, disinterested.

Leah Kuypers: Whenever things I really stress with the Zones is that it's really about finding ways to manage the zone that you're in. So, I think so many of us, you know, our characters just kind of run a little bit more yellow zone. Other people run kind of more Blue Zone, and that's kind of the essence of who they are. So, it's not that we have to try to be and stay in the green zone. For me, it's, yeah, I kind of run a little bit more in the yellow, but it's about finding ways to manage it so that I can still, you know, do the tasks that are before me and meet the goals that I'm trying to accomplish, and keep people around me comfortable. And so, my outward behavior, I think often appears to be more green zone. But internally, I'm still like, often a little stirred up and I, you know, feel that, you know, running list in my mind of like, all the things I need to accomplish and have.

Sucheta Kamath: And I think that there's a wonderful point you just made that particularly anxiety and you know, I see a distinct cultural difference between the way girls, I don't mean to stereotype, but girls and women tend to have this presentation of calmness. And while they are really the swans who have, you know, the feet of waddling under the water, but there's that normalizing appearance of everything is cool. And okay, when you're not feeling cool are okay, but not taking away your language taking away your agency. So, to me, it's just I love that you always say that there is no bad zone. And that's what I think means here that. Yeah, maybe you will forever stay in yellow, but you can manage your yellow well.

Leah Kuypers: Right. You know, and I certainly acknowledge it feels good to get to the green, I like being in the green zone, but it's so just, yeah, being okay with where I'm at. And, you know, just acknowledging those feelings that I have and then being, you know, on alert that I might have to do a little bit more to regulate my yellow zone.

Sucheta Kamath: So, there is a, so you have to forgive me, but I have inserted one zone. When I talk in my practice, it's called Zen zone. The Zen zone is a witness stance, I don't know if you are familiar with in the contemplative practices, that witnessing that you have this capacity as your memory skills develop as you know this you develop this. So, if you try to recollect your best childhood memory, you will not be the person in it, you will be seeing you as if there was a camera in the ceiling. Right. Right. And so, this ability to once we have experienced something, we can encapsulate that experience from a memory perspective. From an aerial perspective on our life, and that that camera feeds us this information about the past, as we recall, so one of the most amazing practice is mindfulness practice is to develop that camera view as you're leading the life. So, you are missing ability. So, you are self-distancing. And so, once you develop that, which is again, self-regulation from not an affective and cognitive ways, but kind of saying this is happening to Sucheta. Looks Sucheta just opened the door, look, she lost her mind. Look, she's hungry, she's looking into the refrigerator. So, there's Sucheta the observer who is witnessing Sucheta the doer doing things, and that also can be a great way. So, with my older clients, I use that perspective, if they're ready, of course, because their difficulties are not that they have any outward dysregulation, but they're just not achieving the goals that they set out. So, there's always suffering from underachievement. And so that decoupling of that emotional sadness or disappointment that you feel in yourself can be achieved. And I found that to be very helpful to use that language. So, I have the thought that, you know, the, are you surprised how a marshmallow experiment has become such a common place? You know, kind of things that people talk about so regularly as if everybody has taken psychology, or you know, write classes and have some masters in psychology. But what how do you see this regulation in the moment, and then collective regulation over time? So that translates into delayed gratification, that that future self? So how do you connect these two ideas?

Leah Kuypers: Yeah, well, you know, that self-regulation in the moment is really going to be impacted by your body's budget at that moment, can you know, what's transpired across your veil ready? And, you know, we all I think of us as everyone having a well, a coping capacity, right. And some days I Well, it's just a little more depleted, like, you know, let's say, the last six months in this pandemic, I think, you know, we've all and in all the other things that have transpired in the last six months on top of the pandemic, you know, I think a lot of us has found our wells pretty dry for, you know, that moment in time. So there's kind of that factor always going on, and just kind of like, how much do I have to give what more can I take, you know, but then, with development and maturity, and building life experiences, we also gain more skills to manage that budget better. And as we age up, social becomes so much more of a factor that worse, putting into this equation. I know you think about the meltdowns of a four year old, and their peers reacting, and they're probably going to play with that kid Five minutes later, but a 14 year old melting down in front of his peers well, you know, it's getting a little dicey here. But a 40-year-old melting down in front of their peers and colleagues, you know, now, we might be having relationships severed, losing employment status, things like that come in to factor. And so, we, for example, build more social cognitive skills to understand how we operate in the social world and how we are impacted by people around us. And they're that knowledge that they're thinking about us, that we can be impacting those thoughts about us and watching them to guide our own behavior really starts you know, playing in with more gravity as we're aging up. So that's just one example of kind of how we roll with regulation. Our goals become certainly more complex and are the weight of achieving those goals becomes heavier, so you know, when you're five and just want to have someone to play with at recess. That may be that goal, a big goal for a five-year-old and just going to sit with at lunch or play with at recess. But when you know, we're older, you know, we have maybe a family that we're providing for we have a home housing that we're paying, to maintain, we have that employment to maintain. And so, these factors become a lot more real to and so that is, becomes more of a driving force as we work to regulate with a goal-oriented vision of what it is we need to accomplish and maintain in our lives. 

Sucheta Kamath: I love that I think I really see that every experience that we have with the world, is I always like to give this analogy that if you serve somebody a chocolate, a piece of chocolate cake, you can assume in the kitchen, there is a larger chocolate cake, it cannot come from an apple pie, right? So, I tell kids and adults I work with that your behavior is a slice of how you behave here is emblematic of how you how you are already behaving everywhere else. So, you can have this pretense and pretend to be nice. And then it'll come out because you can sustain that for too long. And I appreciate this idea that you're saying that we are influencing others perception of us. And that regulation shifts from just managing emotions to actually managing the perceptions so that we appear more cooperative and collaborative.

Leah Kuypers: Yeah, it really is vital to our functioning in adult life. And once I heard a little segment on the radio, it was something on NPR and they were saying, in essence, what are the qualities you want in your next door neighbor, and you think of, like, well, I just really want them to be regulated, right? Like, I don't care what kind of job they have, um, you know, what their level of education is. But I really don't want them to be losing it, losing it. That's what I value.

Sucheta Kamath: My husband and I were going to taking our dog for a walk in our neighborhood. And he There are two ways to go. And I often go on the left, let's say and he always goes to the right. So, when he and I were walking, we went to the right and I had not seen some of there are some new houses coming up. And he proceeded to tell me that there was one house that was coming up and the neighbor had sued the people who are building the new house, there were 17 lawsuits against this new brand-new house, which is absolutely incredibly built a beautiful house. And I was just admiring, and he says my husband says he has no peace he's now tackling they have moved into the house, but they're tackling 17 lawsuits. So, to your point, we don't want to neighbor who's suing you right? Because there was it all started with a tree which they could draw a straight line but there was a slight you know how there's a circle around a tree it kind of the tree set in between the lines so you could have bent it either in the neighbor's yard or your yard and that fight began. so, as we end Tell me when what so what do you do when you are regulated but you're dealing with people who don't even understand the R word? Or they know nothing about regulation and their dysregulation is getting you either anxious getting you a little bit frustrated or making you incredibly unsettled. What suggestions do you have for that?

Leah Kuypers: Well, I'm, I'm just thinking about in my personal life, I'm a Libra.

Sucheta Kamath: Me too! When's your birthday?

Leah Kuypers: October 3

Sucheta Kamath: It's coming up. Yes. Happy birthday.

Leah Kuypers: Thank you. Yeah. So, you know, I just really, I'm always striving to be the kind of peacekeeper, find the balance, hear both sides and you know, not rock the boat too much. So

Sucheta Kamath: I'm exactly like that.

Leah Kuypers: Yeah. So that really holds true for I think the work we do with others and when they're up, they are having the emotions overcome them. You know what some of the work I always go back to is Ross Greene's work and collaborative and proactive solutions, using that CPS model to just empathize and understand their perspective and try to problem solve together to find something that's mutually satisfactory. And that's something worth that really resonates well with me. It's kind of a tool I pull out in the moment to help with that.

Sucheta Kamath: That's great. And sometimes just walking away. I think that also requires some wisdom. Right? Right. I'll be right back. I need to, I need to have a bathroom break. I'll be right back. Kind of just kind of separating yourself from that stressful situation. Well, Leah, it's been nothing but utter joy. Before we end, I've been asking my guests to share some of their favorite books. Do you have any books that you love, and you feel everybody should read?

Leah Kuypers: Um, well, professionally, I would say I love Ross Green's work on one last, I'm looking at my bookshelf here. Lost and Found is one of my recommendations. I tell schools all the time. If the climate of your school is still that these kids are naughty, then you need to start with Ross Greene's work before you're ready for the Zones. And

Sucheta Kamath: He's going to be on our show in a few months. 

Leah Kuypers: Oh, yeah, he's great. Tell him Hi. And then I have been trying to read for pleasure more during the pandemic. Because I get, I'm a bit of a news junkie. And that's not the best way to regulate. So, I've been trying to read to help me regulate and get to the green zone. Um, and I, the book that I loved the most so far is the Nightingale.

Sucheta Kamath: Oh, who's the author? Oh, I knew you would ask me that. Oh, doesn't matter. I think

Leah Kuypers: It is not going to come to me right now. But it is about World War Two and the French Resistance and it's a beautiful story.

Sucheta Kamath: Oh, is it because somebody else recommended it? Oh, that's great. Well, thank you for being with us. And thank you for these recommendations. It's such a pleasure to get to know your work and share that with, with everyone here. And really, I'm wishing everybody a permanent pasture in the green zone. That's ambitious, but one must try. And thank you for joining us again on this Full PreFrontal podcast.

Leah Kuypers: It's been really fun. I enjoyed it.

Sucheta Kamath: Thank you. And please Like us on our social media, share this podcast with your friends and colleagues. And please remember executive function skills, self-regulation, emotional management, are all essential ingredients for having an incredible successful and peaceful life. So, we both wish you all a very executive function centric day and weeks and months maybe not right because the pandemic is not leaving us so 

Leah Kuypers: No. So, we need to learn how to regulate through the pandemic. 

Sucheta Kamath: Yeah, thank you so much.

Leah Kuypers: Can I just too if you're interested in learning more about the Zones too, you can find us at zonesofregulation.com. That'll get you to a lot of information about what the work I do.

Sucheta Kamath: And I will be linking her website on our show notes and we will also link your books so and she offers training so those who are interested in taking a deeper dive please make sure you check it out. So, thank you and have a fantastic day.

Leah Kuypers: Thank you so much.