Monday June 16, 2014

Neuron Therapy


What I.Q. was to the 20th century, self-regulation will be to the 21st. That's the prediction of psychologist and philosopher, Dr. Stuart Shanker. For decades he's been teaching kids how to self-regulate, so tantrums, meltdowns and lack of focus diminish - an ever more important skill today as childhood anxiety appears to be on the rise. IDEAS producer Mary O'Connell explores this terrain with Dr. Shanker and a mother who had serious struggles with her own son.

neuron-therapy-shanker.jpg Self-regulation is sweeping through the worlds of neurobiology and neuroscience. Managing one's internal life is being taught to victims of trauma, anorexia and depression. But Stuart Shanker believes it is our youngest citizens - children with complex conditions like anxiety, oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit and simple under-achieving, who can benefit the most from self-regulation: creating calm environments that help kids emotionally connect with others and themselves. Techniques and tools like sensory peapods, weighted blankets, yoga and building forts can soothe the hypersensitive child. And so can chickens! Years ago, Dr. Shanker pulled the plug on the television and bought chickens and ducks for his young children to care for. Today they run their own egg business.

We are hearing that childhood anxiety rates are very high, a concern that has sent Stuart Shanker traveling the globe advising schools and parents about how to calm dysregulated children - like Danny Stewart. His severe anxiety ensured that he despised school. His mother Anna will be sharing her son's story in this episode.

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