Using Polyvagal Theory to Understand Kids’ Behavior, with Dr. Stephen Porges

When a bright and quirky child has difficult behaviors, we need to ask, in the words of Dr. Stuart Shanker, "Why and why now?"

In this vlog, Dr. Stephen Porges unpacks his polyvagal theory which gives us important clues to answer these questions. Dr. Porges shares that when kids feel anxious, criticized or otherwise unsafe, their body goes into a defensive state.

When kids' nervous systems feel under threat, it's very difficult to be social, learn or problem solve because their body is telling them they're in danger. As Ross Greene says, your child isn't giving you a hard time. Your child is having a hard time.

Learn more below...

Now we'd love to hear from you. What's bubbling up for you after hearing this vlog? Let us know in the comments section below!


  1. Veronica Jiménez on August 7, 2021 at 6:29 am

    Understanding Polyvagal theory can help many families. Children deserve parents and teachers know what is really going on. Looking at behavior through this lens can really change a child’s life. And as Dr. Shanker says, the child will amaze you.

  2. Karyn Koiffman on August 7, 2021 at 7:36 am

    Hi Debbie, I love the vlogs you are posting. Like this one, they are all on very relevant concepts. What comes to mind for me is that I would love to explore more ways to regulate one’s nervous system – Danny Raede once mentioned cold shower (I believe) and I’ve heard of some exercises but there are not appealing to children especially teens. Are there activities that would be appealing for our teenage B&Q children? It would be great to hear more about it.

  3. Doreen Hunt on August 8, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    Doreen Hunt, Occupational Therapist at Children’s Therapy of Woodinville (CTW) is closely involved with Dr. Porges; is on the Clinical Advisory team related to his sound intervention named the “Safe and Sound Protocol” (SSP). CTW is a very good resource for B & Q kiddos on the eastside/Seattle area!

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