Dr. Crystal Collier, a renowned expert in addiction and brain development, shares her inspiring journey and discusses her groundbreaking program, “Know Your Neuro.” She empowers parents, educators, and youth with the knowledge to protect and nurture their brain health, providing valuable insights and practical tips for improving well-being. The conversation explores the impact of risky behavior on the brain and highlights the importance of understanding and supporting neurodevelopment at every stage.
- Podcast: A Playful Approach to Drug Prevention: How to Do Drug Prevention Without Talking About Drugs
- Podcast: The Biology of Addiction and Recovery: Unpacking the Biological Component of Mental Health and Addiction
Dave: Welcome to another exciting episode of the pathways to prevention podcast. And today’s episode, we have a very special guest joining us. We’re honored to welcome Dr. Crystal Collier, a renowned expert in the field of addiction and brain development. Dr. Collier has dedicated her career to understanding the impact of risky behavior on the brain and helping individuals. And families navigate the path to recovery. And this conversation she’s going to share her own inspiring journey. And discuss her ground breaking program, know your neuro, which empowers parents, educators, and youth with the knowledge to protect and nurture their brain health. So get ready to gain valuable insights and practical tips that you can apply to improve your own wellbeing. And the wellbeing of those around you. So without further ado, let’s dive in to this fascinating discussion.
All right. Podcast listeners, it’s time to get this episode going. I am. I’m excited to welcome Dr. Collier to the episode. And quite frankly, folks, we’ve been chatting for quite some time because she’s an amazing individual. This is gonna be a great conversation. So without further ado, welcome to the podcast.
Crystal: Thank you. Oh, it’s such an honor. I’ve been listening to you for so long. I’m such a fan girl of this podcast, so it’s really cool to be a guest on it.
Dave: Oh man, you’re trying to make me blush, uh, uh, podcast listeners. Luckily, this is, . It’s just audio, but Oh my goodness. All right.
So apparently our paths had crossed, a couple years ago in Tampa at the Drug Free America Foundation’s annual Summit.
Dave: Love it. Love it. But there’s so much more I don’t know about you, even though we’ve crossed paths before.
So for our listeners, would you mind just kinda introducing yourself and sharing a, a little bit about, who you are and. What you do.
Crystal: Sure. my name is Dr. Crystal Collier and from Houston, Texas, although I was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. then of course my mom married a Texan, and so therefore I became one. And I, I’ve lived in Texas, um,uh, most of my life. But when I was younger, grew up in some dysfunction. by the time I was about years old, my parents were getting a divorce and we were moving from a little tiny town in Texas to the big city right.
Of Houston. And they were having lots of problems. And when we moved I got a great idea that I would take summer school classes to get to know people because I was so anxious and nervous. And, as you guys know, that’s not the best choice in decision.
I met a lot of great kids who were making some really bad decisions and I ended up, trying alcohol for the first time at just shy of my 13th birthday, and I loved it.
It was amazing. And that just sent me on a career of trying every other thing that I could. By the time I was 16, uh, someone else introduced me to cocaine and using it intravenously, which I did for a couple years. through the whole experience of that, my mom and I moved a lot. And so I was always kind of the new kid and just so struggling with self-worth and esteem and fitting in. Then when I finished, high school, I had a counselor who said, you know, you have all these credits. You, you don’t even need to have your senior year. And I was a, pretty good student, so I went straight into college, And then of course I graduated to bigger and better risky behavior and things just went down very fast. I did, three semesters. I had a 4.0, like a 3.0 and then a 2.0 and dropped out, and my I remember that my, my, I had this chronic gum infection and I, I looked terrible, but, and I kept just buying new shampoo to try to get my hair shiny again, and I was not as worried about this deteriorating health as I was, my grades going down because that was really what I thought my self worth was, was. How smart I was.
And so when that was all imploding, I had a pretty bad overdose and thank God survived it. So many people don’t today, so I, I just feel really, really lucky. I picked up the thousand pound phone and called my mom and asked for help. And so she helped me get into rehab. I went to, charter hospital in Corpus Christi, and I, had a wonderful, like 28 day kind of your quintessential rehab experience. It was really fantastic. They served chocolate cake three times a day, so That that was like the best therapy.
and so I, I, uh, then moved to, um, Omaha, Nebraska to go to a, a halfway house up there, which was a really good decision for me.
I got away from all the, the risky places and the risky people that were around and, and so I, after my gap year of going to, rehab and then going to a halfway house, I got back into college and started studying. I was so confused. I was so happy to be in recovery, but I didn’t understand why like the, this cute, smart, great kid made such terrible decisions. So I started studying everything I could get my hands on, and it was kind of a cool time to go to school because all those F M R I studies
were being published
because that, technology was now inexpensive enough to use in research. So I started really learning about addiction and how it affects the brain and just kept going and going and going. And then, you know, got my bachelor’s and master’s and, it just, I’ve started putting these things in presentations and people were so responsive to learning about it.
So then in,2008, high school here in Houston approached me and said, We cannot figure out on the National Registry, which is no more anymore,
but the National Registry that they were looking and were like, we can’t figure out what program to use and they’re all so expensive and we don’t understand, will you create something from us?
We love your presentations. The
students love them. And I thought, oh, what a great idea. And so I decided to go back to school. And do my dissertation on it. And so I created a prevention program teaching the neurodevelopmental effects of high risk behavior to kids. So instead of your brain on drugs as a fried egg, we show F MRIs and PET scans and all kinds of wonderful brain research about a variety of risky behavior. So that’s, that’s really my story in a,
in a, in a, a, a quick capsule.
I’ve been sober since February 3rd, 89. A proud sponsor, proud, you know, person in recovery and Feel very lucky that I’m kind of, I call it my, safety sandwich. You know, I have a sponsor. I sponsor people. I, I’m really in the deal and take it very seriously and really want to spread the message to kids out there everywhere about how these things affect their development.
Dave: So many questions are coming to mind, but first, thank you for for sharing. Your story, your journey to, to recovery with, with the world on this, this podcast, and I hope that listeners hear it and hear that, that hope, and I don’t know if you ever tag this word on it, but I feel like you got this sense of empowerment and freedom that that came from your, comes from your recovery, your journey.
Crystal: It really does. I, I’ve done a, there’s one particular presentation. It’s my basic neuroscience of high risk behavior. I have probably given that presentation 500 times
and it feels like the first time every time I do it.
So to me, I know that is, Some divine energy that that
really has pointed me in the direction of what my purpose is.
Dave: Mm-hmm. . I’m just gonna share some of my story and just get your
feedback on it since I’ve got, got you. As a captive audience here. and actually preparing for this episode, I was at the Houston Chronicle, I found where you were kinda sharing some of your story and two lines kind of jumped out at me and really resonated with me in that they were, the surviving.
these things. Your, your, your childhood, your, your life, your challenges, your addiction was a blessing, but early recovery was filled with shame, not understanding why I had led myself down such a self-destructive path, and then learning how my genes sped up the addiction process and how substances arrested my brain development.
Those just jumped out at me so much. Yeah.
Crystal: Those are great.
And as you got curious and began to dig in and do your research and study the, the brain and addiction, what, what were some of the things that you learned as you look back at sort of your journey?
Crystal: The thing that I think stuck out the most is I kept looking at these F M R I and PET scan studies and, all kinds of research on a variety of deep risky behavior. And the, uh, uh, TIME Magazine article a few years ago had this great picture of this study that VCAL had done, that showed what the frontal lobe looked like. With, somebody who was intoxicated, somebody who was sober 10 days and then a hundred days, and it was amazing to see how the frontal lobe is literally off when we’re intoxicated or when we’re in detox. And then it slowly starts to turn back on as we heal. And in, you know, in a variety of ways. But it takes about, you know, about 18 months for it to really turn back on.
And I remember thinking, oh my God, kids don’t have that much time. Like we can’t afford our frontal lobe to be off while it’s growing and developing.
Then when I was looking at other studies as they were being published over the years, You could see this same phenomenon in depression, in anxiety, in panic, in people who are struggling with eating disorders, gambling addiction, pornography addiction.
And that’s when I thought, oh my God, okay, I’ve got to make sure that kids have this information.
So they start to love their brain and wanna keep it healthy, and they have a reason to be able to say no. Instead of just say no. Right. They literally, oh, no. Like this is my brain. I’m I’m not gonna hurt it.
But then I also wanted to inform parents because my mom read my book when it came out in one weekend. She did. She’s an avid reader. She, she emailed me and said, these were everything that I didn’t, these were all the things I didn’t do. And I, I, don’t, no one taught her all the things that. She needed to know before raising a kid, right? And how to prevent risky behavior.
And so when I gathered all the information, I thought, okay, I’ve gotta equip parents with brain-based information. I want them to become brain savvy and use brain savvy parenting techniques, brain-based interventions, if you know. So my book’s title is The Neuro Whereabouts Guide. That idea is to know where your child is in their neurodevelopmental stages, what they’re capable of, what executive functioning skills are, which is really what our frontal lobe does. How to keep that part of the brain on by delaying any kind of risky behavior in kids, but also that they need to know the brain’s rule, use it or lose it.
So if you know how the brain’s role works as a parent, you know that those executive functioning skills, if you use them, they grow long networks of connections. If they don’t, they don’t. Right? If you do all your problem solving and decision making for your kids, they don’t grow neuronal networks for problem solving and decision making, but they do grow neuronal networks for dependency on you
to do all that for them.
So all of this, this research I just kept, realizing there’s just a few very simple things that parents and kids need to know. The brain’s rule what the frontal lobe does and how risky behavior shut off the frontal lobe, especially while it’s growing and developing.
I put all of those into the, the guide and the program so that it’s really easy to understand.
You can literally see pictures of each one of those risky behavior and how they affect the brain today. And what I hope and what I hear is that it really motivates kids and parents. For parents. It gives them a scientific justification, right to to be their kids’ frontal lobe until they grow one of their own.
And then for kids, It really gives them a reason, a, a neurobiological reason to say no. I, so a quick story. I was, my husband and I were Going to see a movie here in Houston and we were in the parking lot and this kind of gaggle of kids was walking toward us and they all put their hand on their forehead and said, frontal lobe. And so that’s, I, that’s what I do in elementary school and middle school is we do these fun frontal lobe and we’re act silly and we learn refusal skills. my husband was like, who like is it? There’re a gang approaching us. It freaked him out. It was these kids that I had been presenting to for years who, that’s what they
remember is I wanna protect this part of my brain.
It was just such a fun, cool moment once my husband realized what was going on.
Dave: Oh, that is, that is a. A fun story and I, I would’ve loved to have been sort of just a, they say a fly on the wall, but standing over and just seeing this all take place and we’re gonna come, come back. I wanna know more about the program, the presentations, the book both for, for the kids, but then also the parents.
And I love that you mentioned the activities of play and fun. one of our past guests actually from Norway, has a program about teaching youth how to play we, we lose that. And the, the connection and whatnot that comes outta that. And I’ll link to that episode in the show notes. Um, but before we really dig into this, this curriculum, Fun fact audience members.
I’ve got a, a newborn baby. It is our first, she’s three months old and so I’m taking notes as a parent, as well during this, conversation. But I, I kind of wanna share a little more about sort of my story in that, what helped me. Reach sobriety was really building healthy coping mechanism, coping habits.
Good, good, good ones. Fitness discipline, routine, visioning, goal setting.
But the longer I have been sober, after probably about that three year mark, I was kind of burning out, like, I’m doing all these great, I’m doing all the right stuff,
Dave: but. I’m not where I think I should be and you know, I don’t feel happy.
I, I, I, it was hard for me to feel joy. I felt like I always had to force laughs. And so I’ve been digging into learning about, and actually going through a new treatment protocol all around, based off upon my epigenetics, my d n a markers, but then also my neurotransmitters, hormones and cortisol. What we found in the.
the panel was that my serotonin was boom off the charts, but my dopamine, my norepinephrine, my epinephrine were all drastically low. And I began to understand like, that’s why I feel the way I do. Okay, I’ve got science data that helps me understand it. And then being able to, Address it and not just, okay.
Have you tried mindfulness? Yes, I have. Have you tried breath work? Yes, I do breath work. But it’s like that, that missing element, and it, it brought me that sense of almost empowerment that, oh, okay, now
I, I get it. Now I get it.
Crystal: Let me jump in because you’re, you’re taking me back to this, this memory that I have when I was reading Dr. Kenneth Blum’s 1994 article, but I wasn’t reading it until like 2013 because it’s published in all these genetics journals and I didn’t read those. I was reading the, like the addiction journals.
but he described reward deficiency syndrome and the the cascade of neurotransmitters that actually produce calm, happy feelings and that joy you’re talking about. And so when I kept reading and reading, it was all very complicated words. I had to like look up some words to know what they meant.
And then at the very end, he gets to this little paragraph that says, this is what it might feel like if you don’t make enough of these neurotransmitters, hormones, or peptides, you might feel a little uncomfortable in your, your own skin.
Have a little anhedonia, not feel as much pleasure in things, and feel a little anxious. And I was like, oh my God. This is what the program says is restless, irritable, and discontented.
And there’s a reason. And I wept because I’d always thought it was me.
I’m defective, I’m broken, and maybe my genes are you know? But I can do something about that. And that’s when I actually started taking methylfolate, which helps my body produce more dopamine, which is my lowest indicator.
I got my genetics test read, and I was so surprised to see that all of my dopamine markers were down.
And then when I realized that, I started thinking, okay, what else can I do?
To increase healthy dopamine, smiling for me, hot yoga with my girlfriends, you know, meetings and taking really good care of my body so that those hormones and peptides can work as normally as they can. I love that you, you brought that up because it’s what I think a lot of people in recovery go through when they finally get into recovery and they return to homeostatic balance that balance. May not feel the same as other people out there in the world.
It may not be as satisfying, but there’s something we can do about it.
Dave: Absolutely. Absolutely. And if you haven’t, listened to, oh gosh, it’s been several months now where I interviewed, um, doc Higgins as well. but yeah, it’s just fascinating stuff and listeners, I’ll put a link to that one in the show notes as well. But through that deeper understanding, I felt validated and I felt this sense of empowerment. Like, alright, let’s get to work.
Let’s get to work. And I didn’t feel that that shame like you were talking about, like feeling just different. Oh, it’s just me. That’s just the way it is now. That’s my new normal, dare I say that phrase.
I, and so the whole reason I shared that is, I’m drawing a parallel between that, that same feeling with parents and youth now that they better understand things, the, the science behind it.
There’s that sense of empowerment to, okay, how can I protect my frontal
Dave: let’s just get right into it. We’ve been chatting for a little bit and gimme the, the spiel.
What is Know your Neuro. , tell me about it.
Crystal: so know your neuro brand new website that I just published that includes probably about 36 different videos. All of this is based upon the research that I did for my book.
So let me go backwards and do a shout out to the Hope and Healing Center here in Houston. It’s a nonprofit that was, created in partnership by, a friend and colleague of mine in recovery, Scott b, who also, worked in conjunction with St. Martin’s Church. Here in Houston, they gave me a research fellowship that funded me while I wrote the book, the Neuro Whereabouts Guide. So I got to spend a lot of time doing the research. So I looked at 18 different high risk behavior and how they affect the brain, and I put a graph for each one of those so that parents could see when do they spike? So you know when you need to have that conversation and when you realize, oh my God, I have to have that conversation. Now, what do I say? I’ve got a script and a checklist. Easy peasy. I really wanted to make it as concise as possible. So no topic spans more than two to four pages, and it’s all in developmental order.
So there’s an elementary, middle, and high school chapter, and in each one of those chapters, the first section is what you can do as a parent. To set your child up for success.
So for you, with a three month old baby, you’re focusing on attachment, right? Healthy attachment, eye contact, no screens, lots of carrying on the body, connecting, right?
babies don’t know that they’re really separate entities until 2, 3, 4, 5 years old when theory of mind really kicks in. So they need. Us to reflect their moods and emotions and regulate them until they can learn how to self-regulate those executive functioning skills start coming online. But that chapter is all about that.
There’s information about parenting styles. What’s the healthiest one, how to achieve that, and then what topics are popping up in elementary school. And so, uh,like suicide was a really interesting, I, I realized I have to put that in the elementary chapter because it’s happening. More and more kids are hearing about it.
It’s scary. always ask me, oh my god. Should I talk to my kids about this? Like I don’t wanna ruin their innocence or introduce them to things too soon. And I always say to them, it’s very important that they get introduced to these things through you and not through someone else, like a kid at school, or they hear about it on the news. They need you to know how to give that information to them and you need support. Right? So that’s really why I wrote that. And then, When Covid hit, the book got published in 2020, right in the middle of Covid. And the cool thing is that I was doing more and more zooms and zooms on the, the topics and the chapters. And so a couple of schools said, can you just make videos for us? And I thought, oh, dang, I should really, really do that. And so I created a whole video series for each topic that has a one page handout that you can do in class. Or at home after watching the video. So there’s a K through two series all about building skills, understanding your brain, keeping it strong. Then there is a three through five series and a six through 12. So there are very short videos. Even the six through 12, it’s like six to eight minutes, and it just really focuses on teaching the neurodevelopmental effects of those behaviors, but also how to increase executive functioning skills. There’s also a parent page, a a school page, and a student page. And the student page. I have a application for interns. I’ve got a group of interns who are helping me write the neuro whereabouts guide teen version, and this was so cool because I had kids. Read my book, my parenting guide on their coffee table at home and contact me and say, this is great information, but I want one for me. And that inspired me to, to create a teen version of it.
Dave: I’m digging it. I’m digging it. What, uh, in addition to, you know, the teens seeing it and saying, I want one for me.
What, what have been some other things you’ve heard from the schools, from parents, from the youth?
Crystal: So I did a, the K through two video series at a local school here in Houston, St. Francis Episcopal School. Such a great, great school. And I piloted the K through two series and I saw kindergartners, first graders, second graders. Loving to learn about their brain. And so with the help of one of my consultants, Sally Waterfield, who’s a first grade teacher, she said, oh, this series would make such a good children’s book. And so I got connected to a really great organization here called Spectrum Fusion, which helps kids who are on the autism spectrum find work. And they connected me to an awesome illustrator. Her name’s Rachel, Joanna, and she, illustrated a a a script that I created for the videos into a children’s book. And in the children’s book, know Your Neuro, the first one you get introduced to your brain as a superhero. If your brain where a superhero, it would be called Neuro. And then the rest of the series goes on to. let kids go on an adventure with neuro, how to keep the brain strong by setting boundaries and saying no learning refusal skills and sharing skills and really fun stuff.
And there’s coloring book pages for neuro. And, so actually the very first book in the series I, I was just sharing with you earlier that I uploaded it to Amazon. and we’ll be finishing that today.
So that’s very exciting that that’ll be coming out. And then a whole series. That kids can go on an adventure.
And the very last page is a pledge that they get to pledge to keep their brains strong and healthy as they grow and develop, which is a really great, start or like executive functioning starter and prevention programming that
starts early. And you know, we were talking about this earlier day that one of my, one of my Kind of pet peeves about prevention. Programming is that it needs to be done consistently to have an effect. And what I saw when I was going to all of these schools is that many schools would Purchase, a a really great well researched prevention program, you know, that
had randomized control group research, really good things. They would spend, you know, anywhere from 20 to $60,000, buy all the books, train all their teachers, only to find that in two to four years, the majority of those teachers were gone.
There’s no more prevention, programming, and now they, they don’t have the money anymore to do that again. Or the, the re you know, the way that they had to do it with such perfect fidelity didn’t fit their, their, population. And so that’s, it’s, it’s one of my irritations about it because we know prevention works you like, you, you and I both have
dedicated our career to this, but how do we get people to do it? Consistently in a way that fits them. And so that’s why I really created Know Your Neuro is to offer that tool.
Dave: Rocking, rocking. So tell me a little bit more about how folks are leveraging, utilizing all of your resources from the books to the videos, to your presentations. Where, where are they plugging your, what you are offering into their day-to-day lives?
Crystal: A couple of of ways. I, I do a lot of training, staff training, my September and October is usually so busy because I, and now I get to travel more often, going to more states and teaching the neuroscience of risky behavior to teachers. Principles. right now I’ve got, the Archdiocese of Houston, Galveston.
All of the principles of the Catholic schools in this, this, uh, region are doing my book, the Neuro Whereabouts Guide. As a book study, I’ve also done a parent book study. We’ll be putting one online that’ll open soon, next year or January,
we’ll start a brand new series. That’ll be on Know your neuro.org. But the, the, the way that I, have researched how really good prevention works is literally doing it consistently over the school year. And so there’s a video on Know Your Neuro for me, that gives you an idea of how to do that. And this is what schools are doing is they’re using it in either homeroom classes or health classes. Every, they could use it every week if they wanted to. There’s enough, programming and content there, but doing it every other week or maybe once a month,
but consistently over time so that kids can hear the same message that keep your brain on and grow your skills, right? Strong brain healthy choices, It, it takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to do, one of the classes in, in the series, and you can choose which ones you think are most relevant. So you may wanna talk about alcohol in the high schoolers or talk about impulse control with the middle schoolers, or eating disorders or technology overuse, depending upon, you know, where you are. You may have a first grade class that, really, having difficulty with, refusal skills or saying no, or sharing, so you can use those literally tailored to what is going on in your class. And then for parents, they can go On the website at any time and find information about parenting styles and attachment and a blank behavior contract if they’re having trouble, what to do. There’s a few links to some great resources like Drug-Free America and different places where they can get connected to bigger or smaller macro or micro resources that they need in that moment to help with what’s going on. Either prevention. Of risky behavior or prevention of continuation
of engagement in it.
Dave: Mm-hmm. . Okay. Okay, so I’ve got another question for you and it is, we’ll call it a a three part question. So it’ll be the same question, but for three different audiences.
Crystal: Oh this, so this sounds like very game show. You okay?
Right, I’m ready. I’m ready. I.
Dave: So youth, schools and parents are your audiences.
wonder where I came up with those? if you were to give just a, a message to each of those audiences individually. So first one being youth around the the impacts of learning or, and or not learning whichever direction you want to go. What would that message be to the youth?
Crystal: For youth, you are not alone. Learn what your brain does. Connect with other people.
Find that one person who loves you fiercely and is your cheerleader and protect your brain.
Crystal: That was probably more than one message, but
Dave: Nah, I didn’t, I didn’t hear a period in
Crystal: Okay, good.
Dave: message. So now who do you want next? The, the school staff or parents?
Crystal: Sure, let’s go school.
Dave: School. All right. School. What would be your one message to school staff as it relates to the importance of implementing, of sharing this information or the impacts of not?
Crystal: So for schools, I would really encourage schools to adopt a mantra, a strategy. It could be my program, which is strong brain healthy choices. Once you adopt that, everyone’s on the same page. They have a scripted message that they say to the kids consistently that is seen in their policies, in their social emotional curriculum, and in their discipline techniques.
Crystal: Is to be on the same page, whether that, whether they use my program or something else, that it be consistent
and that everyone has unity in that message.
Dave: Mm-hmm. . Mm-hmm. . Okay. Okay. And now for the parents, whatcha gonna tell them?
Crystal: Oh my gosh, I So again, you’re not alone. You’re not alone. You know, like there’s so many parents out there that Feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. And so I find it such an honor to help them. And when your are in danger or you’re worried, that’s all you can think about.
And so, but there are tools to use from day one
that you can create a very healthy A practice of parenting and a message that you build into your family code that your child gets to hear often without lecture, and they get rewarded for upholding. So in my book, I write about the family code and creating a family code, which is really, really simple. One of the dads in one of my groups. Hi. Him and his family and his sons created this code and then they put it into a really cool digital coat of arms and framed it. I love that. Another little girl in in a different group, she drew this beautiful tree and everybody in the family got to put their name on a leaf and the code was right in the middle of the, the bark of the trunk of the tree. And you know, a family code. Just a few sentences that say what your family does.
And so like my family code is in our family. We treat others with kindness, compassion, and respect on and offline. We protect our brain’s development. Never use drugs and only alcohol when we’re 21 or over. That really kind of summarizes how you show up in the world and then when you use that code, Consistently, you’re not lecturing. You’re saying, this is what we do in our family. We love you. You are a part of this tribe, and this is how we show up in the world, online, offline, and we protect our brain. And then you’re creating unity, which is what really helps prevent kids from engaging in risky behavior, is knowing that somebody loves and caress about them, is interested in them, and will hold them accountable for protecting their brain.
Dave: I like it. Family Code. One of my favorite books is called The Culture Code, and is at the core of actually culture as a strategy. The presentation, you got to see
Dave: I, yes, like family code. I, that’s gonna be my takeaway I think from our conversation right now.
Dave: Fun little tidbit. So as I sit here as a parent, not as a podcast host, um, I just think about all the, the questions that I’ve had since Baby Elleanor was born, and I know the importance of, of protecting her brain.
I know the part of my role as a parent is helping shape her, her critical thinking, which . Also links to emotions and also, you know, shaping, shaping behavior, and just overall healthy development. I know all that’s so important and I feel like I am just now at 40 years old figuring out how to do that for myself.
So how in the heck am I supposed to do that for a baby? Talk about feeling overwhelmed. So how can, how can know your neuro. Help with that sense of overwhelm that I feel
Crystal: Oh, so the neuro whereabouts guide and the website Know your neuro, literally age, step-by-step. Developmental. Here’s what to expect as what age your child’s growing and developing in. And, what you can do at each age
to make sure that you are engaging in the healthiest parenting practices possible. And, and, and keeping it simple, like learning what secure attachment looks like, learning what authoritative parenting looks like. If you can adopt those two styles in approaching your child, you’re gonna be a fantastic parent. Well, I actually think you’ve got many skills that are gonna make you personally a, a fantastic parent, but for the parents out there who are going through what you’re going through, learning those early childhood development really means. is contingent upon what healthy, secure attachment looks like.
It’s the foundation, kind of the first neurodevelopmental foundational level stage that our brain starts building neuronal connections for. So if you get that one and then go to, authoritative parenting and what that looks like. Then continue to grow skills through there as they age. So knowing what’s coming online, and in my book, I make it really, really simple. Literally a box that says, okay, here’s what to expect at this age, and here’s what you can do to increase these skills, and here’s what you need to teach them in order for them to know about risky behavior and what your expectation is regarding that. A lot of times, parents just make the mistake of not thinking they have to have those conversations until later. It’s very important that we need to have those before age eight. A lot of those conversations need to happen so soon because kids are inundated with so much information today.
And so if I, if I can put another plug into, because I, I wrote another book that was published this January called fU Mapping,
and it’s, Really cool workbook I, in my therapy practice as a therapist, I have worked with people in recovery and people, not just people who have family of origin wounds or society of origin or religion of origin wounds. And I started mapping them about 20 years ago. And so what I do is people will come in and Tell me their life story, and I put it into the neurodevelopmental chunks of time. There’s about five neurodevelopmental stages that I’ll work with, and depending upon what happened to them at each neurodevelopmental stage, we’ll really create a certain way of thinking, feeling, and
behaving in the world that were adaptations to what was going on in your food.
Or Ru or Sue and, but they may not really serve you well today if they were born out of
And so I think that one of the best gifts that you could give as a parent is doing your own food work.
Really being able to understand how did my family shape my neurodevelopment, how did my society, my culture, my religion affect how my brain developed and the resulting thought patterns, feeling patterns and behavioral patterns.
Do those mesh well with my partner that I’m raising a kiddo with? Or do we push each other’s food buttons? How, you know, like how does that show up? When you know that you will really help circumvent installing a foo button in your kiddo
we all do, like we all have foo wounds, no matter, right? But how big or small they are is really dependent upon how aware we are of how we are doing that to our kids.
Dave: I’ve been taking some wonderful notes, uh, during this conversation. So many notes and I can’t wait to share ’em with my wife and my friends that are also parents and professional colleagues.
I want though to, to kind of dig into, to share with our listeners that are across the globe, not just here in the United States, all this great stuff. How can they access it?
Learn about it. Utilize it. Leverage it, implement it. How, how does that all work?
Crystal: Oh, I love that you asked that because learning about the brain is universal, obviously, and so I created Know Your Neuro with a Translator, the Google Translating button, so you can translate the website into whatever language you’re in. Of course, I’m the one who recorded the videos, but you can use a subtitle. To hear those. If anybody is interested in rerecording those in their own language, contact me. I would love to give you those scripts. you know, those are resources that I want the world to have so that you can make this your own culturally diverse,of information. It’s it what I do, you know, I don’t do. Original research. I love to read everybody else’s research, systemic reviews, meta-analyses, and figure out, okay. What’s happening in the brain and give that to the public in a really easy to apply tomorrow way. So I think that this information and the way that you get it will, you’ll be able to apply it no matter where you are in the world and know your neuro, is, of course it’s got the translation, but the neuro whereabouts guide is also Available in Spanish, as well as English. And so, that’s available on Amazon, either in, print form, it’s also available on audio book, which but I, I forewarn you, it’s a big book. It’s 400 pages, so it, you will listen to me talk for 14 hours straight, but I love Audible, so I had to record it. I’m about to record the food mapping book too. And then it, but it’s also on ebook, so there’s lots of ways that you can get it, globally if you’d like it. I, I see a bunch of, sales in the UK and in Spain, so I’m, I’m hoping for it to travel farther, in different parts of the globe, especially now that know your neuros out
and more people will be able to use it in their language.
Dave: marvelous. yeah, I know where I’m gonna go after this. I spend a little time on Know Your Neuro. Absolutely. And listeners, . Show notes are gonna be filled with links, both know your Neuro and Crystal’s website and cool. If I put your, your social links in there as well.
Crystal: Please do. Yes.
Dave: Alright. Alright. And listeners, I hope you’re feeling the, the energy, the, the passion, the caring that is coming through this conversation.
I could ask questions for days, and I’ve got a couple that I’m gonna hold onto for once we hit end record.
Dave: as we, we wind down this conversation,
I just kind of wanna put a, a bookend, a a bow on things with one just takeaway that you would like our listeners to walk away with. We’ve got listeners again, across the globe. So what would be just, you know, your one message, your one takeaway could be a call to action, could be a resource, could be a go get ’em.
Yeah. What, what is your final takeaway for our listeners?
Crystal: I’ll use the quote that I say probably the most often, and it really goes out to parents. Caregivers, educators, anybody who works with kiddos is to be their frontal lobe until they grow their own. Empowering you to teach them skills. Make sure that you offer them a lot of options and use a lot of brain-based praise when you see them using those executive functioning skills. Keeping their brain on and healthy, that would be the message.
Dave: Beautiful, beautiful. And just so you know, we’re gonna have many future conversations, but for today, I just want to thank you Oh so very much for taking time to chat and connect with me and share. Your wisdom, your resources, your your life experiences with our audience. So thank you very much. It’s been an absolute delight and an honor
Crystal: Thank you. It’s really an honor for me. I, like I said, I’ve been a fan of your podcast for a long, long time, and I love your guests. I always learn something new, so it’s been really cool for me to be a part of it.
Dave: together is better learning from everybody.