Lagging Skills of Behaviorally Challenging Children

Dear Parents,

lagging skills, behaviorally challenging children, attachment challenged children

I just finished a training on Advanced Regulation Skills for parents of behaviorally challenging children from difficult beginnings.  By “advanced” I meant beyond techniques.  Regulation strategies like jumping on a trampoline, doing some jumping jacks, taking a fast walk with the dog, or spinning on the lawn work for ongoing sensory, emotional, and cognitive integration.  Children need to be doing this kind of thing every two hours no matter how they are feeling.

Advanced regulation skills are all about looking at how parenting activates regulation/dysregulation, how activated attachment styles of parents activate survival brain behavior in children, and really using our brains to investigate the areas of lagging, delayed skills in our children that lead them to “flip their lids” on a regular basis.

Often, parents, I have written about looking at your own personal narrative from birth forward to begin to make coherent pieces of your past that may have been pushed aside in order to move forward and survive the chaos.  Once you take a peek at the past, grieve, heal, and re-evaluate some of those early scripts about yourself and life, you can be freer to accept the reality of parenting behaviorally challenging children without creating the same wounds in them.

Just as often, I have written about learning and using a consistent therapeutic parenting model to allow your safety and predictability to wage war against the fear that is core deep in your child.  This is a truly invaluable step that can get drowned out in the heat of a moment by your insecure early attachment style rising up and sweeping the safety and security right out from under the tentative emotional stability of your children.  You must do your own work to understand yourself and what you are bringing to every interaction with your child.

Right now, I would like to open your eyes, if they happen to be closed, to the fact that our children from difficult beginnings are likely to be emotionally delayed by so much stress hormone (cortisol) to the prefrontal cortex (executive brain function) that their focus is mostly on survival and little on the nuances of being a fully human “being” in a family and society.

“Lagging Skills” is a Ross Greene concept.  If you have read The Explosive Child by the same author, then you already know what I am talking about.  Unfortunately, it is easy to get bogged down in what feels like too much information to make use of the gems in that work.   Even his great website,, can feel overwhelming because the materials, while free, are daunting to parse, especially when you have a child who will not let go of your leg or, the opposite, has to be supervised around every corner 24/7. Broken down, lagging skills are gaps in knowledge/life skill.

Problem: Sarah has difficulty getting out of bed for school in the mornings.

Lagging Skill: Difficulting transitioning from one state or mindset to another.

Solution:  Empathize with your child’s difficulty.  Listen deeply with caring.  Let me say that again with emphasis: Listen deeply with caring. Together, investigate the problem from your child’s perspective.  Share the problem from your perspective.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Collaborate: Work together to come up with a solution that works for both of you.  Get agreement to try it; and then, try it.

Encouragement: Specifically acknowledge success.  In failure (the face of persistent lagging skill), go back to the beginning without disappointment, frustration, or anger to empathize with trying and not being able to master it.  Do step one, two, three again.  Don’t give up.  Be safe.  Be predictable.  Don’t give up.  Be safe.  Curb your frustration.  Don’t give up.  Be safe.

Don’t give up.  It takes 400 repetitions to create one new neuropathway.  Don’t give up.  Keep going.  How many repetitions have you really done?  I mean it.  If you are on the tenth rep and not succeeding, you have 390 reps more to go.  Yep, it’s that hard.  If you start today, in a year or so this problem with be solved.  If you give up at 10 reps, you will be fighting this problem well into your child’s adulthood.  Don’t give up.

Love matters,


Upcoming Events Calendar (Click Here)

RESERVE YOUR SPOT: Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on May 5, 2018 from 9 am to 4 pm.  Register here or on our website!

FRIENDS OF AUTISM:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. April 21st, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to so we get enough snacks, right? This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for food and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

NEW!  5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–5-7 yrs and 8-10 yrs. groups. The 5-wk group will be $125 total, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  New groups will begin again in June 2018.  Click here for more information.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on April 11th, 2018! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.


GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.




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