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The Better Behavior Show with Dr. Nicole Beurkens

Jan 5, 2022

My guest this week is Josh MacNeill.  In this episode, Josh and I discuss teaching children how to manage stress and the ways in which stress affects brain development in children. There is a stronger need now, more than ever, for adults to understand how stress impacts a child's brain. Stress affects a child's ability to function in all areas of their life—developmentally, academically, socially, and behaviorally. So we are going to first discuss stress tolerance, how stress can vary, the capacity for stress, what stress looks like through the lens of a child, and then wrap up by exploring ways in which we can help children become more resilient when encountering stress both in school and at home.  

Josh MacNeill began his career as a high school English teacher in an alternative school just outside of Philadelphia. While he was teaching, his organization began to take steps towards becoming a more trauma-informed school and Josh was an early adopter. He saw a lot of success utilizing brain-based and trauma-informed strategies in his own classroom, and quickly found himself with opportunities to train other teachers on the approaches he was using. In 2015, Josh shifted out of the classroom and became the director of Neurologic by Lakeside, a program focused on transforming schools to become more trauma-informed and neurodevelopmentally supportive environments for all learners. (Love that.) Since then, Josh and his team have had the privilege of working with tens of thousands of individuals across the world. Additionally, Josh is an adjunct professor in Eastern University's MD program and published the book 101 Brain Breaks and Brain-Based Educational Activities. Josh, thanks so much for being here. It's great to have you with us today.

Episode Takeaways

What is Stress & How it Impacts the Brain … 00:07:10
“Stress” is in the Eye of the Beholder ... 00:12:25
What is the Root of the Stressors? … 00:17:38
Building Stress Tolerance & Tips … 00:18:30
Finding Individual Stress Sweet-Spots … 27:22
Empathy for Variance in Stress Capacity … 00:31:00
Adults Being Transparent & Vulnerable … 00:36:40
Neuroplasticity: Ability for the Brain to Change … 00:40:18
Recognizing Individual Approaches to Stress … 00:44:58
Professional and Parental Stress Resources … 51:05

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