Beyond Behaviors

For the past two years, I have been attending a “Parenting in Place” webinar series. One of the presenters was Mona Delahooke, PhD, author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges. She explains that parents and teachers respond to the behaviors they see without an awareness of the underlying, unconscious forces driving some of them. She uses the metaphor of an iceberg to describe this dynamic. We react to what we see (what is above the waterline of the iceberg) and are oblivious to the forces (beneath the water) driving some of them. In her introduction she says, “Too many books about children’s challenging behaviors take a one-size-fits-all approach without consideration for the autonomic state – the brain/body connection.”

I have used her concepts, along with the many other resources in my bibliography, to help parents understand, be empathetic with, and not jump to judgment about their kids’ behaviors.

This is compatible what I learned from Tina Payne Bryson, PhD, and Daniel J. Seigel, MD, who, in No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, encourage parents and others to be curious about what’s driving kids’ behaviors rather than reacting to them with consequences. They ask parents to ask themselves the why-what-how questions:

  • Why did my child act this way?
  • What lesson do I want to teach in this moment?
  • How can I best teach this lesson?

This is compatible with what I learned years ago from Marshall Rosenberg, PhD, father of Non-violent Communication (NVC) who said that our behaviors are the best strategies we can think of at the time to get our needs met.

Tina Bryson is so taken with Mona Delahooke’s research and book that she requires all her staff at her Center for Connection to read it. Since Tina is one of my heroes (I spent two years in an online training program with her), I decided it would be important for me to become familiar with Beyond Behaviors.

“A NEW approach to solving behavioral challenges.

In Beyond Behaviors, internationally known pediatric psychologist, Dr. Mona Delahooke describes behaviors as the tip of the iceberg, important signals that we should address by seeking to understand a child’s individual differences in the context of relational safety.

Featuring impactful worksheets and charts, this accessible book offers professionals, educators and parents tools and techniques to reduce behavioral challenges and promote psychological resilience and satisfying, secure relationships.”

Beyond Behaviors, by Mona Delahooke, Ph.D. – on