Colby Harris: Welcome back to the Grit.org Podcast. My name is Colby Harris, and alongside me is Brian Harbin. And today we have Jen Harbin joining us as well. And our guest is Elise Fallucco. Elise, thank you so much for being here.
Elise Fallucco: Thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited to get to talk to you guys.
Colby Harris: Absolutely. We're super excited to have you. So Elise is a professional who trains pediatricians to face the child mental health crises. So she's been a lot of different fields all around that space, and today she's going to share everything with us, from raising her own kids in her own life, as well as how parents can be more prepared to face child mental health issues. And we're just going to dive right in.
We got a lot to get through today. Like I said, we have Jen join us today, Brian's wife, to do a little interviewing as well, from a mom's perspective. So just super excited to dive right into this. So Elise, you know you really got into medicine at a young age. Tell us more about your upbringing and where you found that passion for medicine.
Elise Fallucco: Sure. So I grew up in Northern Virginia in Great Falls, and there's no doctors or no people in medicine in my family. And so I don't think it was ever on my radar, honestly. I just came to it a little bit organically. So I love kids. Like, I've known that from a young age, and I used to babysit. And one of the things that I was most excited about in childhood and adolescent was being a swim coach.
So I would work with little kids individually and then also with our larger team. And it was so rewarding to just see them learn and understand things and then be able to apply it immediately, and in our case, swim faster or reach their goals.
And so I went into college just thinking, I want to do something that's working with kids, but I didn't know what that would be. And I loved math and science, and so I just, for fun, did premed thinking, I want to have all of my options open and I want to learn about chemistry and biology. Sounds really cool!
So I took those classes, and this may be too much information, but basically when I got into the premed track, it was almost a little bit of a turn off because of the culture. So the premed courses are really interesting and super fascinating, but stereotypically. I'm sure you've heard this, too. A lot of people who track into premed can be really, really intense and competitive.
And so that was a little bit intimidating because some of my classmates, when you get into, like, third year of college and premed, a lot of people have already sorted themselves out and decided, I don't want to do this or, this is not my thing, and gone into a different direction. But the people who are remaining are pretty intense. I'm a little bit of a pot calling the kettle black, but I looked around and I thought, I don't know. They don't seem like my people. I don't know if I'm going to really fit in in med school.
And again, I flashback to what makes me happy, which is teaching and coaching and learning and for a little bit, I actually looked into doing youth ministry because I was a confirmation teacher throughout college or volunteered to do that. And so I thought, well, this would be great. I can still work with kids and teenagers and help them grow and learn in a way. So I was kind of on the fence. And I think ultimately, I think it was my dad, probably, who steered me not so much away from that, but just sort of had me step back.
And he was like, “If you want to do youth ministry, that's really cool. We're going to support you whatever you decide to do. But as your father, you've always loved math and science, and I think you're really good at it, and you get so excited learning about the human body. And I think I don't want you to not do something that you're passionate about because you don't look like everybody else. I think you should just pursue medicine because that makes sense, and that's more in line with what you've always loved and been good at. And if it doesn't work out, that's fine. I think it's probably easier to go from medical school, maybe, into youth ministry, but I think you really should try it and just sort of be brave and take the jump”.
So I was not sure, even while I was going through the application process, that this was going to be the right place, but luckily it really was. And I think once I got in to the right med school, I went to Vanderbilt Medical School, and it was the most wonderful, almost cartoon, like, wonderful medical school experience.
One of my friends had gone there, and he had told me, he said when I was applying, he's like, you have to apply to Vanderbilt, and it was not on my radar at all. And he said, because they throw pep rallies before your gross anatomy exams, and they have blueberry muffins and bagels and they play guitar songs, and they really cheer you on, and everybody's supportive, and you give each other notes from lectures and old quizzes, and it's like a team.
And so when I heard that and then when I visited Vanderbilt, it finally clicked. And I was like, okay, I'm not like some of the premed kids that I'm in college with, but, like, this group of people who love science, who love the human body, who want to learn, and who want to help each other out. This is the place for me.
Brian Harbin: Excellent. So, you now, obviously landed on Vanderbilt. I know Princeton, you know fit in there as well. Tell us a little bit about that experience.
Elise Fallucco: So I went to Princeton for undergrad, and I majored in French and Spanish literature and was doing the premed track there, and it was really great. I think it's another story of, like, it takes a while to find your people. And so one thing that was really cool is that I ended up doing musical theater at Princeton in what's called the Princeton Triangle Club.
It is the oldest, longest running collegiate touring musical theater group in the country or something like that. Like, way too many qualifications for it, but that really shaped my experience. I loved the classes. I learned a lot. The professors were great seminars, et cetera, et cetera. But for me, being on stage and getting to sing and dance and just be silly and work with people in musical theater who are super-duper fun, that's what I think of when I reflect back to college.
So I did musical theater, and I would say the people in general, the culture there was really pretty low key. I felt like, especially as a woman in sort of an intense academic environment, it wasn't like in premed. There was a lot of pressure to get A's and be the best in the class, et cetera, et cetera.
But apart from that, everybody was just really interested in doing the best in whatever field they were into. And some people were engineers, and some people were, like, visual artists and filming things on the New York subway and being producers. So it was an awesome group of really fun, cool people. And it took me a while, but I found my little niche in my musical theater crew.
Jen Harbin: So your decision to study child psychiatry, tell us a little bit about that. How did you decide to go into that field in medical school?
Elise Fallucco: Oh, thank you for asking.
Jen Harbin: Sorry about that. First timer?
Elise Fallucco: No, that's always a Vanderbilt. And it was as great or Vanderbilt Medical School, and it was really as great as advertised. And I'm not sponsored by them, but if they want to sponsor me, I'm cool with that.
Jen Harbin: You're available.
Elise Fallucco: I would love some swag. Free swag is always appreciated. Again, I think because I loved kids and working with kids so much, I just assumed I would go into pediatrics. And so I was very hardcore. Like, from my first day, I thought, I'm going to do pediatrics, and I did pediatrics experiences and summer internships and all of those kind of things.
And I loved working with the kids and the teens in the hospital on the unit. But it was different than I expected, I think, because I have no background or had no background in medicine. I sort of anticipated that the doctor is like a part of your family, and so there's somebody who you trust so much, and you can develop this long standing relationship with, and that's who I wanted to be.
And pediatrics in a hospital setting is really fast paced, and the pediatrician in that setting is not exactly how I envisioned myself being. But that being said, I said, you know what? I'll do primary care pediatrics. I'll be like, your cool, trusted neighborhood pediatrician who you can come to for everything, and she'll get to watch you grow up.
And so I applied to or started applying to residency in pediatrics, and this is my fourth year, which is your final year of medical school, and I decided to just do a rotation in child psychiatry so that I'd be a better pediatrician. And I was in an outpatient clinic with Dr. Scott Rogers, who was my mentor at the time. And this teenage girl came in, and she was so sad, and she just sat on the couch, and I think she was a sophomore, and she was just saying, it was the first time I'd heard a story about depression, I think, and about teenage depression specifically.
And she just shared her story of she'd been this really happy freshman and fairly high achieving, and she was in the marching band and had lots of friends. And then she experienced her first depressive episode. And I got to hear what it was like, almost in slow motion, about how it affected her sense of self, how it affected her relationships, how it pulled her grades down and got her to the point where she just stopped caring about things.
And in that moment, I felt obviously so much empathy for her. And at the same time, there was this odd thing that lit up in me, like, this is it. These are the conversations I want to have. These are the relationships I want to have with patients. I want them to be able to talk about these hard things that they're going through, and I want to be there to try to help support them and figure out ways to get them better. And so I just forged a connection with that sweet teenage girl and went home. That night was like, this is it. Like, change of plans. No more pediatrics. We're doing child psychiatry. So that's how it went.
Jen Harbin: Nice.
Colby Harris: That's awesome. And I love the part. I want to back up just a little bit to your time at Vanderbilt, or was it Princeton that you did theater?
Elise Fallucco: Princeton a little bit at Vanderbilt too, actually.
Colby Harris: Oh, that's awesome. So I was a student vice president in high school, and that was, like, really something that helped me grow, be a little bit more outspoken, be comfortable in front of people. And obviously, as we've now sat down with about 30 guests, you're very comfortable on the podcast, as I would assume. Same with your clients and things like that.
But tell us a little bit about that experience and what it offered you, because we're huge fans of just really diversifying your experiences through high school, through college, through professional life. So what value did that add for you? And just like you said, you kind of look back on as the highlight of your college experience at that time.
Elise Fallucco: Oh, what was the value? I think it probably offered value in a lot of different ways. Like you said, diversify. And so one of the first things that I thought of it was something that was different for me. Like, I wasn't a theater kid. I grew up doing swimming and running and kind of sports and whatever. And when I got into college, again, there was something that clicked. When I saw the freshman orientation performance by the Triangle Club, they were doing this Charlie's Angels number, and there were girls and there was dancing and, like, pointing with fingers. I can't really describe it well. And I was like, I want to do that.
And so it was something completely off the radar for me. I was actually planning on swimming in college, but was not fast enough. That is another story. That's for another podcast. So I went in there thinking I was going to be an athlete, and then I saw that show and was like, I want to do that. And I've never done that, but why not? I'm a freshman. Let's just try out and see what happened. And I really didn't think I would get cast, and I was really lucky my freshman year to get cast and just being thrown into that culture of people who are very experimental. A lot of them have a lot of confidence because you have to have confidence to kind of get up on stage and improve. It was comedic musical theater, so not serious, not like Shakespeare.
And so I think I learned a lot. It built my confidence to be able to get up and play crazy characters and say ridiculous things. So that was really helpful. And then also, it just stretched my brain because it was so different. It was not organic chemistry by any means, and it was not like Baudelaire and French literature. It was like, none of that matters. We don't care about your papers. Just get up and be silly and make people laugh. I think it's funny because I feel like where I am today is so much shaped by that silly experience I had that I wasn't planning on.
I mean, I did it all four years in college. We toured around the country and we had an orchestra and amazing sets, and we had people from Broadway, from New York come down to direct and produce our shows. So I got to learn a lot from people who do this professionally, which was like, again, the goal is do it to the best of your ability and do it really well, and I think the Triangle Club really did that nicely.
So I would say those were kind of it was the surprising getting out of my comfort zone, trying something new and not taking yourself too seriously. I think all of those things helped shape things. And then in medical school, I should warn you, it's like a little bit of a trigger warning. This is going to sound really weird, but in medical school, we have a show, like a tradition at Vanderbilt. Every single year after Gross anatomy, the first semester, there's this huge gala or huge ball that's just for all the medical students and faculty, and it's called Cadaver Ball, which sounds really gross, but I need to remind myself that not everybody thinks that's a good name.
But the fun part of it is it's like Saturday Night Live. You put on skits and musical numbers that the students write, just like in triangle, which is all student written musical theater. And then you perform and you're just totally silly, and you don't think about histology class or whatever you just learned. And so I was Cadaver Ball co-chair the years while I was in medical school. And again, it was just this escape from and a reminder that your identity is so much more than what your job is, or that what you're doing. Nine to five, that everybody is so much bigger than that. And that was really fun.
Colby Harris: Yeah. When you said, stretch your brain and don't take yourself too seriously. Those are two super valuable things, I think, for people going through college, because it's so much weight on your shoulders once you're going into of, like, figure out what you want to do. And every day needs to be about pursuing that or figuring out what that looks like and designing the life of your dreams. But no one would necessarily walk in and say, musical theater, that's going to lead you to where you want to be. Go do musical theater. Perfect. Exactly where you should be.
Elise Fallucco: It was like a joke. In our family, actually, especially freshman and sophomore year, my parents were like, oh, my gosh, we're sending our child to tuition is not cheap, and I'm sorry. Year one, you're telling me you're in a musical theater group in college. Is this really a good life goal? And then year two, I find out you're majoring in French and Spanish literature. My parents are like, I'm so sorry, I just can't imagine a future beyond this. What is this preparing you for in real life? Like, really not very much. It was not really a great investment early on from the perspective of my parents, and so I appreciate their patience. And it was the long game. We played the long game.
Jen Harbin: Well, I mean it seemed like it prepared you to be the balanced person that you are now. Like, you're saying it helped you to get out of your comfort zone, and I think even be a better mom, too. Just not taking yourself too seriously.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah.
Jen Harbin: I remember when I first met you, you came to a parents and prayer meeting at school. So before anything, I got to know you as a mom, and we've had the pleasure of getting to know your kids, who are just three of the sweetest people ever.
Elise Fallucco: Thank you. At least when they're with you guys, you don't see them behind closed doors.
Jen Harbin: I see them on their expert mode.
Colby Harris: You're telling me Alex isn't a perfect kid all the time?
Jen Harbin: I don't know. I don't think Charles would agree with that. But before we get more in depth on your expertise in your field, why don't we talk a little bit? Would you share with us a little bit about your job as a mom and what it's like being an expert in psychiatry and being a mom expert? How do those two things.
Elise Fallucco: I wish the psychiatry training were more helpful in day to day life, frankly. So I'm a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and it's so funny. And I'm a mom of three. So we've got an eight year old who's Alex you mentioned, an eleven year old Julia, and a teenager, 13 year old Chase, who are lovely. They are really lovely kids.
And I think, looking back, child psychiatry is really about treating illness and treating mental health problems in kids. And so in some ways, it made me extra nervous as a parent because I don't know, you know, about worst case scenario and about illnesses at their worst and you know, what all the signs and symptoms are. And so it was a little bit textbook. Like you have a little child who is staring at the ceiling, the blades on the ceiling fan, as like a six month old and is sort of fascinated by that, which is a normal developmental thing.
But when you're a nervous parent and you know that that can be one of the signs of autism spectrum disorder, for example, then you're like, is it going to be okay? And should we have them tested? And what do you do? So I think it made me a little bit more nervous in some respect, but it almost feels like being a parent and being a mom has helped me to be a better child psychiatrist. I think everybody assumes that the medical training makes you a better parent, and I'm not sure that's true at all because parenting is really different than psychiatry doctoring.
Colby Harris: There's no textbook for that.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, exactly. And it's like the opposite, I think, being a mom and being in the day to day struggles of like, oh my gosh, we got to get out of the house. And one of our one child who's very different than the others is like, and I won't tell you which one is like, up hours beforehand and has packed his lunch and has packed his siblings lunches and has everything ready to go and is like we got our water bottles. It's T-20 minutes till carpool leaves we're good to go. And then my teenager very typically is asleep in his bed and completely oblivious to everything That's going on.
And then my daughter in between is sort of navigating all of those. And there's shoes that have to get on and lunches that have to be packed. And it's chaos. Living in that chaos, I think, helps me appreciate a little bit more what the patients and families that I take care of are going through on a day to day basis. And hopefully it makes me more compassionate, I hope so. We joke like you feel bad for my first, however many years of being a child psychiatrist before I had children. I want to be like, I offer You All a refund. Anybody who saw me before 2010, I'm sorry that we charged you for this. I'm not sure if I was very helpful, but hopefully more helpful now.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. And I actually have a two part question. The first part is and you're married to Michael who also is a doctor. So what about in terms of just the overall family philosophy you have, too, in terms of just managing the family?
Elise Fallucco: Survive, I think. Just survive. Beyond survival, if I were to think about it, it's not like we have a curriculum that would be great, right?
Jen Harbin: Could you write me a curriculum? I would follow it. I would follow your wife curriculum, your mom curriculum, your friend curriculum. I would be -- [Crosstalk] I like projects.
Elise Fallucco: I like the idea of that. It's very organized. I would like having a rulebook or that would be really…
Colby Harris: Maybe you could be the mom textbook. You never know. [Crosstalk]
Elise Fallucco: It should be a musical theater number. [Crosstalk] Yes, that would be much more fun. No one wants to read a textbook. Yeah, you're right. So I think one thing that's really big in our house is being kind and that comes out a lot with the three kids and all the sibling rivalry because everyone's fighting for attention and they're all very different and have very different needs. You're stuck together in the same spot with these people sometimes in the same car for long periods of time.
And so it's easy to get annoyed and frustrated and when that happens and they start naturally getting upset or frustrated or hitting one another or doing whatever you do in carpool this morning, what I say a thousand times a day is just like, be kind, be kind. Like, also keep your hands to yourself, but just be kind, to one another.
Like, I know your sister may be singing really loudly and it's early in the morning and we don't really want to hear Taylor swift at 06:00 a.m. But how can we ask her to stop in a nicer way? So use nice words. Be kind. Work hard is probably another big one. It's not like that's something I have to say to my husband, like, work harder. Yeah, that phrase doesn't come out of my mouth nearly as much as be kind.
But I think my husband and I, whatever we do professionally or we really try to do to the best of our ability and part of our medical training for sure was about you just keep going. Even when you're tired, you want to do the best you can because you're taking care of other people and you kind of want to put them first. And even when it's 03:00 in the morning and you haven't slept either as a parent or during residency, you've just got to do the best you can and keep pushing. And there really isn't a time to quit.
Brian Harbin: Right
Elise Fallucco: So be kind, work hard, probably, and have fun. Don't take things too seriously. I think the online football games that Brian has coached, he is a coach extraordinaire, in case you don't know, have been so fun and I've watched them with Jen in the sidelines and we are usually laughing way too hard for a flag football game.
But the message that you guys put out and that we try to reinforce too, as parents is like all these sports are for having fun. You lose. And that's frustrating for sure, and you're allowed to feel that feeling of being disappointed because you worked hard and you wanted to win. And also the most important thing is to have fun and get better and grow and make friends. So those are the things we try to try to teach our kids. We're not 100% by any means.
Jen Harbin: I have to say as a mom, just as a parent in general, it's so reassuring to hear that you have the same struggles in the morning car of keep your hands off your brother, keep your hands off your sister, those things. Because of course, I've seen your kids in so many situations and they are out in the world, so kind to each other and encouraging of each other.
So it's good to hear that I'm not the only one that's going through. Even an expert goes through that and you just do such a great job of handling it. And when I think of it's funny, you brought out football because every time we're on the sidelines, like, I can see where they get it, that they get the know. On my little video clip, you can hear you in the background going, woo.
Elise Fallucco: Alex so loud.
Jen Harbin: So great. And you know, each of your kids in their own way. I've seen Chase on the sideline coaching Alex also and cheering him on. And Julia's right there cheering him on. And the Riverside Run, Julia was right there at the dance party encouraging all of her peers who were very tired. It's like mile two. And she's like, you can do then, you know, sweet Alex. After every single I remember this after every single play, he goes up to his teammates and gives them a high five every single time.
And so you can tell that they see that in your home and with your family. As a parent, do you have any tips for how do you guys come to is it something intentional? What do you guys do to sort of cultivate that spirit of encouraging others and uplifting others because they do they just do it?
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, that's a good question. We're lucky to have so many great people in our lives, like my husband and even my mother in law is so incredibly positive. And so I think being around a lot of people who are very focused on be positive, help other people out. I don't know if you get that through osmosis or something, but again, it's not like it's always been that way. And I think they have a really positive, encouraging spirit, naturally.
But probably just like all kids, they don't want to go and see their brother or sister's games. You don't see behind the scenes the hour before the game when one kid is like, oh, my gosh, it's 100 degrees. Who wants to sit by that turf? Can I just stay home? And we're like, no, you are going to support your brother playing football. So I don't want you to think that we're just like skipping around, cheering one another on.
But I think there is like, anytime somebody falls down or gets hurt, you're always or more realistically, let's say that our two boys are fighting in the playroom, or like wrestling, having fun, not like mean fighting, but know playing, and it's getting too rough. And then usually the little one is getting hurt by the teenager who doesn't remember that he's dealing with an eight year old instead of another teenage boy when he's tackling.
And so then Alex, our eight year old, would get really sad. And so we're always trying to redirect, like, Chase, check on your brother, check to see if he's hurt. Julia, I know you weren't there, but see if we can get ice or whatever's going on. And so just trying to remind them, like, we're all on the same team, and if somebody's hurt, you have to help them out. And if they're not doing well, try to encourage them. But I think the kids are really lucky. We have really good kids. So I think some of that just is they're good people.
Brian Harbin: Yeah. And be kind is a lot more effective than saying stop fighting. Right? It's more of a positive thing.
Jen Harbin: Stop what you're doing.
Brian Harbin: Now, part two to my question, and this could be where the theatrics comes in, because think about if an adult goes to see a psychologist, they are choosing to go see them themselves. But when psychiatry, it's a little bit different, where the kid is probably not choosing to go talk to someone, it's usually their parent that is making them go there.
So how do you kind of break down those walls and establish trust. And I was thinking about theatrics probably could help in terms of just being it helps probably break down the walls, loosen things up. But how do you kind of establish trust early on with these patients, these kids that probably don't necessarily want to talk to you about their problems.
Elise Fallucco: Right, yeah, it’s -- and you're right, Brian, that most kids, they're not choosing to come to me. I mean, I'll say some of the teenagers maybe some of the teenagers actually are like in the case with the teenagers, especially ones with depression and anxiety, they know to some extent that they've not been doing well, and they oftentimes have been asking for help. But it's been hard for the loved ones in their life to realize and get them connected.
But for the kids, for sure, and especially kids with behavior problems, they're coming because they're getting in trouble in school and they know it. And mom and dad are mad at them. They definitely don't want to be there. And so just trying to connect on a personal level. Initially, I spend a lot of time or I try to spend a lot of time one on one with the kids, my patients, and early on, even before I'll introduce myself to the mom or the parent, whoever is there, and find out a little bit about what's going on.
But I try to be really careful not to spend too much time up front with the parent before I really quickly connect with the kid and say, before we even talk about what mom wants to talk about, I want to learn more about you. Tell me, what did you do this past weekend? Or what kind of things do you love to do outside? And a lot of my little boys right now love football, which is great because my real life sons also love football. So I'm like, we are going to connect about football. Let's talk about your favorite team and do you play and what do you want to do?
And so I purposely and intentionally try to show them, like, I'm interested in who you are as a person. This is not about whatever's happening at school or whatever is happening on the bus. It is, but what's more important is I want you to know that I genuinely care about you and I'm here to try to help you. And even when we're talking about I try to be careful when we're talking to the parents about what's going on and what's going wrong to also model. It's not that the child is a bad child and yes, that's frustrating behavior.
And even when the parents are saying things like, he got in trouble for, I don't know, not following the rules at school or for talking back to the teacher, I try to reframe it into like, wow, he must have been really upset when that happened, or you must have been really upset to the kid. Do you remember what happened? What made you so mad? Trying to get to the idea that your behavior, which may be labeled as good or bad, is really just reflecting how you're feeling on the inside or something's not going right on the inside. And that's what we really care about is like trying to help you feel better and understand what that is. And yes, we have rules about what behavior is acceptable and not and safety is important, but really it's just about trying to connect with them on an individual level.
Colby Harris: And yeah, I was going to ask kind of follow up that question about how you connect with the kids. What about even just with parents and kind of connecting with their own kids and what really an ideal parenting style looks like. I see here you have it written down that's really different for each kid. But if you kind of had to take a couple case studies or general advice you could give out of what parents could be doing, what style would you say is the best way to approach either a kid in crisis or a kid trying to avoid that crises?
Elise Fallucco: Oh, yeah, I wish that there were like a magical, like, follow these three steps for perfect children and easy parenting. Follow me on Instagram.
Jen Harbin: Check. Done.
Elise Fallucco: Now everything's better. I think about it. I've learned so much from our kids went go to the same elementary school and I've learned so much from the teachers at that elementary school and then at other schools about what helps kids perform at their best. And some of the general principles are just like structure, predictability and routine. And so things like letting the kids know ahead of time, like, this is what we're going to do. And especially one of our kids so adorable, really thrives on knowing what to expect.
And I would say as a side note, as a psychiatrist, not to diagnose anything, but maybe that those of us with anxiety like to know, especially need predictability and structure. So everybody benefits from structure and routine. Like, this is how the day is going to go. Breakfast is always at this time, and we always sit down together and then we do these things and we get in the carpool. And then after school, our routine is backpacks up, shoes off, wash your hands because school is gross. Like dump all of the mulch out of your shoes from the plate every day, every day. So much mulch.
Jen Harbin: It's like a gallon of mulch in their shoes and then their socks too. How do they get it?
Elise Fallucco: And then we do piano and homework. And once you do the hard things, then you can do the fun things and go outside. Don't be inside. Like no screen time or well, okay, let's be honest, there is screen time, but screen time is limited. And we have a timer and you have to set your timer for 30 minutes for your screen time, and you only get the screen time after you do all the hard things that aren't as fun.
And so just like, it's making things predictable, routine, helping kids know what to expect, I think is really important and then also in terms of behavioral expectations. So starting in pre K Three at this school, oh, boy, they had a color system or eclipse system, which is kind of like almost a universal teacher thing. That's a great idea. And basically it's to try to promote positive behavior and to kind of have consequences for negative behavior. And it's like green is where you want to be, and then if you're really amazing, you can be blue or purple. And if you're not doing as well, your clip gets moved down to yellow, which is proceed with caution or then, like, red.
So we adopted this rainbow clip system in our house after I saw the teachers doing it, and we have this laminated markered rainbow thing and clips with each of the kids names on it. Now, side note, now they're saying that this is not a nice way to I don't know, that the latest trend is like, you shouldn't be stigmatizing bad behavior and you don't want somebody to feel shame if their clip is moved down.
Colby Harris: Reward system or anti reward system.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, that you have to be really careful about how you do this because you don't want to be like, well, everybody's on green except for Chase, who's on red. But the general principle of, like, here's what we expect, it's really clear. No hitting, no certain behaviors are for sure not okay, and they lead to time out or major consequences. And then focusing really, on praising anything that's remotely positive, like, oh, look, you didn't jump out of the table three times during dinner, so that's great. I noticed that. That's wonderful, and we're so happy with that.
Or like, oh, look, the dish that you just ate dinner on moved from your place mat in the general direction of the sink. It's not washed and in the dishwasher, but look at that, it's closer to the sink. Because kids love praise. And most kids, I think so really leaning on trying to praise them a lot, even for things like shaping their behavior, like praising anything that's good, that's getting them closer towards the behavior you want them to have, and then having really clear consequences for what's not okay. And trying to enforce them is really hard when you're tired.
Jen Harbin: That's a great reminder of just even though even if something's small, we tend to be, or at least I do. I know that I talk a lot when they've done something wrong and drone on about that, as opposed to talk a lot about what they're doing right and then be really succinct and quick with natural consequence when they've done something wrong instead of droning on like the Charlie Brown. So that was a great reminder. And I liked what you said about screen time, too. It's sort of the after you've had your vegetables, you get a little dessert.
Elise Fallucco: Yes.
Jen Harbin: So it's your mental treat, your treat at the end of all the other things and then having a timer on it and in that kind of area, I'm sure you could go on for days and days. How do you see all this technology that we have that you and I had technology as kids? It was like turning the Saturday morning cartoons on and whatever was on was on, and that was really it. There was no cell phone and iPads and everything at your fingertips. How do you see that affecting younger kids, teenagers? It obviously affects all of us, but not for kids.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, I could talk forever about that and I'll try not to. I'm long winded.
Jen Harbin: We'll come back for another podcast on.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, separate. Total separate thing on. That probably the highlights one, you know, excessive screen time, probably beyond like the American academy of Pediatrics says you shouldn't. Each kid, regardless of, your know, two and up, should not be spending more than 2 hours a day on any form of screens, which is kind of impossible for our kids in middle school and high school who take chrome books and laptops to school. But really I think what we know is that the screens are so stimulating and so engaging and all the bright colors and things bouncing and pop ups and new pictures that is just hitting the dopamine reward system in our brain really hard, which means that it makes us want to seek that out and kind of reinforce that behavior.
And so that's why you see even all of us, you're at a dinner table and you're like, oh, my phone just binged. Let me go check that. Who was that? And do I have a text message? What's new? It's so much more stimulating than sort of long term rewarding behaviors like making friendships and having conversations and even getting outside and playing sports. Those are rewarding things. But they can't compete with the screens and with social media and with the video games and all these other things.
So just knowing that we're fighting something that's more powerful than we're able to handle is something to keep in mind. It's not all bad. Like a lot of my kids with anxiety are kids who have kind of just really different interests in life and have trouble connecting with their peers in brick and mortar schools or situations. They can find other like-minded individuals online and people who love Japanese anime or love whatever it is. And so in that sense, screens and technology can be really positive and really helpful. But it's like moderation.
Brian Harbin: It's like the balance of instant gratification versus delayed gratification. Like having a cookie is fine, but you also need to eat healthy things. Same with technology and screen time. It needs to be balanced out.
Jen Harbin: Yeah, it's funny. I found it's sort of the opposite of what I would think, which is the opposite of what they're normally doing on the iPad is just like a game that's like, ding ding ding ding ding, like you're saying, hitting that dopamine. We ran across this channel. It's called Early American, and it's kind of funny. So it takes place now. I mean, it's like a young couple and they live in the woods somewhere and they sort of live their lives. They film all these things. They're recreating these recipes from back in the 1700s.
And so they're doing it with obviously there's electricity to film it, but that's it. So it's like a fire, the coals, everything is from scratch in the sense of they follow it exactly to the T, and she doesn't speak while she's doing it. So you're watching a screen and you're actually kind of quiet. It's kind of interesting. So I'll have to send you a link to that.
Colby Harris: Charles and a question I want to ask was more along the lines of where the leading causes? But I think what I want to know is what are some things that parents can look out for as more triggers to see? Like if something is going on, whether they get a phone call from the principal at school saying there's been some things going on with bowling or it's on the football field. These triggers that parents can kind of see from the outside looking in that they can be aware of might cause a mental health crises in the young person's life or something that they might need extra assistance with to get through.
Elise Fallucco: Wow. Yeah. That's so tricky because thinking back, what are the sort of the precipitating or events that happen right before you see a crisis or are signs that over the next couple of months you need to keep a closer eye and see what's going on.
So thinking about it that way, what first comes to mind is that in the years that I've been working in the emergency room and in the hospital, we see a lot of kids in crisis in that setting, and we're evaluating them. And it's so interesting how the stories are so different, but there's so much in common that almost always for our older kids and our adolescents, what I'll say is that major conflicts are signs of a crisis.
So, like, for adolescents, it's breakups or major friend fighting or bullying is usually I feel like bullying happens in…
Colby Harris: So common.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah. And in so many of the stories, it's like, and so and so was bullied. And that's sort of when they started to feel bad about themselves. So bullying can be a big trigger, relationship, social trauma, whether it's romantic relationships as a teenager or when you're a younger kid in elementary school, like getting bullied or getting excluded or not being asked to play at recess or not being allowed to play moss or whatever it is.
Those are things that are big heartbreakers. Also academic struggles. I think as parents we worry more about the academic part because we want our kids to be able to learn and succeed. And so I think kids worry about it, but probably not quite as much as they do about social things. But when they start to see that they're not doing as well, or sometimes that can be a problem too, and to take a hit on their self-esteem.
So I think looking out for any particular triggers and then, of course, signs from your kid that they're not doing that well, that they're acting different or they're saying kind of negative things about themselves, that would be a sign to kind of get in there and have a crucial conversation about what's going on.
Brian Harbin: I wanted to ask you too, about parents being there for their kids in crisis. And I wanted to go back real quick to you were talking about the positive because I think especially with teenagers, one of the things that I've learned, it's very easy to always be able to find something to critique about a teenager. Right? I mean, it's like you miss them, they get home and it's like within five minutes there's already a lot of things you feel like you can get on them for. But I think in doing that, they start to tune you out. Right?
And I think as a parent, that can be the most frustrating thing is they're tuning you out because that's when they really need to have those safety parameters up. So I think finding the positives as spread out as they can be sometimes really focusing on that, building that relationship, but being there for their kids in a crisis too. I was thinking about I'm sure a big trigger, too, would also be divorce and kids going through that.
And if parents know that there are certain situations that are just going to happen, is there anything that parents can do, especially in those situations or any other type of crisis situations? You think parents can just intentionally be there for their kids in a way that they need it?
Elise Fallucco: Yeah. So when you know that this is a stressful situation or we're about to go through a stressful transition, I'm thinking of one of my dear friends who recently went through a divorce and she was so thoughtful. She came to me kind of months before they even announced it to the children, and she was already thinking, how is this going to affect them and what can we do?
I think the first part is just being aware that this is a potential stressor on the kids and don't underestimate how much they know, how much they pick up and how much it affects them, especially our kids who are more emotionally in tune to the world. They can be really sponges. So just acknowledging, identifying that and then kind of acknowledging with the kids that this is hard.
Let's not try to sugarcoat this. Our tendency as parents, I think, is to be like, it's going to be all right. Like reassurance, reassurance. And I have kind of moved away a little bit from that, like not being negative and doom saying, but also acknowledging like, yes, it is going to be right. And this is hard, for example, to make it concrete. So our older son, 13 year old Chase, really is I hope he will not be upset about this, but he really has his heart on playing football, on playing middle school football. And he got a major injury right before the season started and got a stress fracture in his humerus.
And it was the first time he's ever had like a game stopping injury or something that's really affected his ability to train. And he was so appropriately, so sad and so frustrated. And Michael, my husband, is really encouraging and he comes on that like, it's going to be fine, it's going to be great and you're going to be better than ever. And I'm kind of the realistic one or the more realistic parent and just came to Chase and was like, I am so sorry. This stinks, you know, and Michael would say this too, but I was like, it's really hard. We've all been injured and I know you wanted this goal so much and you've been working so hard for it and you can't control that. You overused your shoulder in lacrosse camp.
It just happened and that's okay to feel upset and to feel frustrated because it just shows that you worked really hard. So I'm here. Let's talk about it. And we're going to be positive and proactive and solution focused on what we can do and acknowledge we don't have to pretend that this isn't a big deal because sometimes I think in our effort as parents to be positive and to be encouraging, we can inadvertently invalidate what they're going through.
And so just meeting him and being like, yes, this stinks and we can get through it together. We're going to figure it out. And the reality of like, you're probably not going to start at the beginning of the season because you haven't been able to use your arm and that's really disappointing. I'm not going to lie and pretend like it's going to be okay. I maybe got off topic with this. I'm not sure if that even answered a question.
Colby Harris: No, I love it. And on that line, what I'm over here counting is at what point or maybe what age? Because obviously I know all of Brian and Jen's kids and I was not too long ago, even a teenager myself. At what point is there an opportunity that you can kind of start to lean off a little bit in the sense of being so reassuring, but also to the point where this is a young adult now growing up. Becoming a little more independent, where you can just say, hey, it's been really hard, and you're going to have a lot of hard work in front of you and you're going to have to do it.
And that's going to be expected if you really want to go play football this next offseason. You have to do the physical therapy. You have to do all these things, in a sense, on your own. Where would you say that you can kind of start introduce that sense of independence for a child? Like, would you say it's the earlier teen years or something that kind of takes a little more time, but a time where they can really start to feel like they're getting that independence and understand that that work ethic is something they have to uphold.
Elise Fallucco: I mean even earlier than teen years, I think. But it's all about the balance, right? So, Brian, you were saying before, with our teenagers, it's really easy to critique them. And I think, again, as a parent, it's really easy to see them as little adults and talk to them like we would with our colleagues. And I've fallen into that, certainly with Chase.
And he's helped me a lot to remind me that there's a magical recipe. Actually, there is one magical recipe. And it's like for every critical thing you say to your child, there need to be five positive things, like validating things, and not in a cheesy way and not in a contrived way. But I was helping him read through an essay last year in school, and I was like this sentence, what is going on here with the running of the ons? And he stopped me. He's like, did I do anything good? Like you just keep telling me about all the things that I need to fix because we're, like, in the process of editing or something.
And I was like, oh, my gosh. And he'll say that a lot. He'll say, Stop, you're only telling me the things I'm doing wrong. Can you tell me something? I'm doing good, doing well. And it reminded me at all ages, even as adults, in order to be like, I think about my personal swim coach. I feel the same way, a lot of times.
I'm like, I work best when I get a lot of like, here's what you're doing well, or this is nice, or I've noticed an improvement here, even if it's not perfect, like the dish is getting closer to the sink or whatever it is, and then, here's this one thing that we can work on. And so as parents, it's hard because then you have to, like, we see more than one thing that they can fix. So then you have to triage, which is the one thing.
Jen Harbin: It's funny you mentioned that it's like for every withdrawal, you need to make more deposit…
Elise Fallucco: In the bank.
Jen Harbin: Yes. In the emotional bank. When you said that, I immediately saw myself as our 15 year old is still learning, still in the learning phase of driving, which…
Elise Fallucco: God bless you.
Jen Harbin: Is terrifying. And of course, every time we get in the car, he's not going to learn by sitting and watching a YouTube video on it. He's going to, unfortunately, get better by driving my car as much as humanly possible. And it is absolutely terrifying. He says the same thing. I mean, I'm pointing out every little thing because I am also concerned.
Elise Fallucco: Dear, heaven.
Jen Harbin: For our safety, the safety of everyone around us, the car, yeah, the sidewalk, everything. And it's true. I mean, he has said that same exact phrase to me. Where can you give me some encouragement?
Elise Fallucco: Yes.
Jen Harbin: I'm like. [crosstalk]
Brian Harbin: Putting the car in drive. Just make sure you come to a complete stop sign.
Jen Harbin: You put your seatbelt on. Good job.
Elise Fallucco: Yes.
Jen Harbin: You adjusted your mirrors after we stopped, and then you adjusted them again. Good job.
Elise Fallucco: I like trying not to say it sarcastically, but it's good because I think when he said that to me, when Chase said that to me, just like your son that said that to you, can you find something I'm doing right? A light bulb went on, and I was like, I think I do this to myself, too. I think how you do this, it sort of reflects your own self view of like, these are all the things that I need to work on, or Those are the things our family needs to work on. And I'm like, that's not that healthy. And it's so helpful to have your child be like, doesn't make me feel good. Doesn't make me want to keep driving any longer.
Jen Harbin: And like you said, you can have a few things that, even if they're tiny, you go, okay, I did that, even if I just did a teensy bit better than I did last time. And you really can't like you just said, you can't change more than one thing at a time. So you can only be focused on improving a thing. If you're trying to think of three things you've got to fix, forget about it. You're going to be all over the place. But focusing really well on one is, so.
Elise Fallucco: That's so hard. As a teacher and a parent, what's the most important one? Even though you see them all, what's the most important one right now? And just have faith that we'll get to the others.
Jen Harbin: Yeah, it's funny because now we're back in the school year, like, back in the thick of it. And so there's all the as we've gotten into the summertime, we've gotten into some in our house, some more screen habits, not the best sleeping habit, just all these things. And we're like, okay, we're all back. Rip the Band Aid off. Let's do everything right now.
Elise Fallucco: Immediately.
Jen Harbin: Immediately. Like day one. And they're like, we're adjusting. You're like, we're adjusting, too. We're all adjusting. But it is good to get back to sort of those fundamentals. So let's break down. What are some good things that kids can do to feel better? What are some good habits for them to get back into? And how can parents kind of encourage that and support that?
Elise Fallucco: Outdoor time. Outdoor time. Exercise, good sleep. Like, American Academy of Pediatrics says, all these kids should be getting 10 hours of sleep a night. Like, more if they're under ten, maybe less if they're older than ten years old. So it's all about routines. Have a set bedtime, have a set time that you wake up, try to eat healthy. Gosh, we need more vegetables in our house.
Jen Harbin: Sneak them into a smoothie.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah. When they're not paying, when they're not looking at it. Limit screens. Yeah.
Jen Harbin: All the good healthy stuff.
Colby Harris: And Sally, we're slowly running out of time, which is a bummer. I could sit here and do this all day. This is one of my favorite conversations. I don't have any kids. I feel like a parent to a lot of these kids, but one thing I want to ask is if you are someone that's looking to go see a professional. So I actually saw a professional from about like eleven up until high school, and she was a godsend, like, absolute savior in my life. Me and my whole family went to her.
And Sally, she passed a few years ago. And it's finding somebody that you can really just the way I think about my experience, like, such a deep connection and somebody I could always go to and rely on. How do you assess someone or how can someone assess their opportunities to go see someone? And how can they kind of find a right fit when they do think they need help and kind of go through that process of someone finding a good place for them to get help?
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, I think the first thing is the earlier you go, the better in terms of when you're starting to notice a problem, the sooner you can get to the problem and get to see a therapist or a psychiatrist or even go to your pediatrician. I would start with your pediatrician to see what's going on and what resources could they recommend.
So, first of all, I'd encourage parents in particular. When you notice that there's something off about your kid, don't feel bad about going to get help. I think the thing I've personally gone through, and that I've seen a lot of parents go through, is that there's this whole period of feeling shame or feeling bad, like, is this something that I did as a parent when my kid's not doing well and now I'm embarrassed?
Colby Harris: Still stigma around it, too.
Elise Fallucco: So much stigma. Yeah, I need help, but do I need that help? And I mean, everybody's like, the thing I hear all the time is like, my kid is sick, but it's not like they need a psychiatrist. And I'm thinking, I don't know if that's true. I don't know. Psychiatrists and therapists can be incredibly helpful and supportive to families, and I think the sooner you can get there, the better.
And we like to talk about it as almost like another type of coach. Just like, let's say you're not doing well in math and you get a math tutor. Or let's say you're really excited about doing better at soccer. You go to soccer practice and you listen to your coach, and your coach sees what you're doing and tries to help you make adjustments to do it better. And so, like a really good therapist, that's what they're doing. They're helping to support you, and they're giving you tools and skills that you can use now and for the rest of your life.
Colby Harris: Yeah, just like you said, a coaching me, it's someone who has a higher level of education in that space than you have. And I think that it just makes so much sense to point it out. One quote I love is Naval Ravikant. I don't know if you're familiar with him. He's got a couple of great books, and he's like, we have all these super smart people, and they can't figure out how to be happy. He's like, happy is a little bit simpler than people make it. I think having a professional that you can go see is really just making it clear and someone with that expertise that can help you really just go through the stack of what you're looking at and how that can help you feel better in the long run. So just having somebody that's more educated with you in the space is so important.
Jen Harbin: That's a great way to put it, being a coach, someone who's an expert to be there to advocate for them.
Elise Fallucco: And I think it's so much less stigmatizing. At some point in the future, hopefully there won't be the stigma on seeing a child psychiatrist or seeing a child therapist, but for now, it's just somebody who wants to help you and who knows what's going on and can help and support your family.
Jen Harbin: You were saying earlier, I think a lot of that stigma probably comes from because it a lot of times is manifested in behavior. Right? Which is just an outward expression of what's going on inside. And it tends to be, well, if my child is behaving this way, even though it's because of some issue going on, how does that reflect on us as parents?
Elise Fallucco: Right, exactly. All the shame that you're going through, like, what did I do? And also the fear, like, I'm going to be under the microscope. That's not really what's going on when you go see a professional that they're there to help and support your family, and it's not about judgment.
Jen Harbin: Well, here's to hopefully that will be changing soon. And I remember when you came to school when you came to the school that our kids go to, you had this great session where you were able to give parents some tools to use, whether from a whole list. Of kids that may just experience the anxieties that we all experience to a disorder of anxiety that needs to be dealt with in another way.
And I love that you gave us practical tools to take home. And one of those that I love that I have borrowed so many times is ways when you're overwhelmed with a moment, an emotion, you can't calm yourself down by saying calm down. And you have this great little trick that sort of tricks the kids into calming by focusing them on different kinds of breathing exercises. Would you share just one of those with us real quick?
Elise Fallucco: Sure.
Jen Harbin: It's been so helpful. I've used it many times with, okay.
Elise Fallucco: There's a couple, but I didn't invent any of these, so I get zero credit. But like the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding one is probably one that I think is good for all ages, really, and can be adapted for all ages. So the idea is you're getting really anxious because we're not leaving in time for carpool this morning and I won't get there for patrols and what is going to happen because the coach is going to yell at me.
So first, just like stopping, kind of recognizing you're in this state of heightened anxiety. And again, there's really nothing you can say to your child at that point to help them get out of it. It's like your brain has gotten hijacked by the amygdala or your emotion fear center, so you're not listening. And so just grounding and getting back to the moment. So in that moment, stop, take a deep breath, slow down. Notice five things you can see and be as detailed as you can, like the purple cap on the pen over there and the rumple wrinkled plastic on the waste basket bag across there.
And then four things that you can feel or touch. And it can even be like your clothing or the seat or something to just really pay attention to how it feels like, what's the temperature? Is it hot, is it soft, is it smooth? And really connect with what's going on. And then this is the part where I get them all confused. But three things you can hear just like little small sounds around you. And again, try to pinpoint them to details as a little bird chirping or your tummy rumbling.
And then two things you can smell and sometimes you have to…
Jen Harbin: Always a good one.
Elise Fallucco: You're like, I don't know if I want to smell two things. And then one thing that you can taste. And usually by the end of that, you're so much more connected to what's going on here. And it's a way to sort of get your brain to calm down a little bit.
Jen Harbin: Thank you. That's a good one for adults to use, even. Also, just moving forward, I did want to ask you one more thing if each of us as adults and kids, of course, people of all ages, if there was one thing that we could each do to help improve this sort of mental health crisis that's going on everywhere, what would be like a tip? Just like, one small thing that we could do?
Elise Fallucco: Probably one small thing would be notice and ask. Maybe notice when it's whether it's your kid or your friends or your classmates or whoever it is, notice when something's off. And don't be afraid to ask to have a little hard conversation and be like, hey, Jen, gosh, I noticed that things are a little hairied and that you were rolling in 40 minutes late to the lacrosse tournament with one kid on your arm and a cooler and hair in a ponytail.
And no more judgments on appearance, but just like, it seems like this is a really stressful time. How are you doing? And then listening, and then just being like, how can I help? What can I grab that cooler from you? Or what can I do to try to help?
Jen Harbin: Nice. Like, how are you really doing?
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, how are you really doing?
Jen Harbin: But how are you really doing?
Elise Fallucco: Okay, well, how are you really doing? And sometimes people aren't ready to talk, or it's not safe or comfortable for them to talk, and that's okay, but just kind of trying to pay attention and to take the time when you can think of it to ask nice.
Jen Harbin: Thank you.
Brian Harbin: I like that.
Jen Harbin: Be ready if they can.
Brian Harbin: I love the grounded thing too. That's like the beginning stages of meditating, you know what I mean? In terms of just connecting to being in the present. I would love to see, I think one of a small thing that would go a huge way for the youth of America is to have each kid, as part of their school schedule, go meet with a child psychiatrist for 10 or 15 minutes, because it's like you're getting in front of everything. They just have a safe place to go and talk to. Kids aren't probably journaling on their own yet. But there's two things I wanted to ask about.
First of all, we talk a lot about the wisdom, the enneagram on here, and I know we've bonded over that before. I know you and I are both the type three. Type three. So tell us how that's helped you personally, professionally with your family, or how you kind of incorporate that to your life.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, I think the thing about the enneagram that was really helpful for me is just being reminded that not everybody sees the world the way that I do. I think it's really easy to just assume like, everybody else is thinking in this way as an achiever, which is the type three, which is, like, so funny. There's so much hypocrisy in here. I'm like, I didn't want to go into med school because those people are so intense, but also I'm really intense.
And the other hypocritical thing is, the big thing about being a number three is one of the pieces of advice is stop being so goal oriented and achievement oriented and take time to just connect with people and slow down. And I'm like, let me tell you about connection and how good I am at it. Obviously, this is something that I constantly need to be working on.
So, yeah, I think that my default, for sure, is super power through. What's my next goal? What are we getting done? Let's be productive. My value is tied to the things that I'm doing, and I think it's been helpful to learn, like, no, no, this is only part of who you are, and be reminded that for your own health and wellness, that you have to temper this, that it's your greatest strength and your greatest yep.
Brian Harbin: No, agree and love. That my last question, and then I'll kick it to you. Colby is, as a child, psychiatrist, and as you know, with Grit Camp that we do during the summer, I guess as a parent, not psychiatrist, what do you feel are some of the benefits to a program, or especially with kids kind of having that engagement over the summer?
Elise Fallucco: Oh, structure. Like, again, pro. Let's keep them in structured routines. We know as parents that our kids, like, one week at the end of school or maybe two weeks out of the end of school, are, like, pulling each other's hair out and just dying for something stimulating to keep them going. And it's really hard, as parents, to keep their days going. There's no way we can do that the way that the teachers can and the schools can.
And so trying to get them into some structured activity is really important for just their emotional health and their well-being, let alone their physical health and their spirits. And if it's outdoors, that is great, and if it involves exercise, even better. We have studies that show the positive effects of exercise in the brain and for mental health specifically, in addition to all of the physical health things.
So we've sent Alex to Grit Camp, I think, every single year that it has been offered, and he loves it and counts down to it. And we are like Grit Camp sponsors because mainly, my child will wear nothing but a Grit Camp shirt every single day to every single meal when we're not at school and we have to wear our uniforms. And I was like, Is that the same one? He's like, mom, no, I have seven of them. This is a different one. I'm like, it looks a little like we don't have more than one T shirt in our house.
Brian Harbin: We got some fresh ones we can give them.
Jen Harbin: I wonder if Alex is a little achiever, too, because there's the Greek creed that they all say every day, but every year we have a different little poem or excerpt or something for them to memorize, which is just positive stuff to take forward. And he memorizes it like this, wants to perform it for everybody else, and I have to come up with new ones for him to memorize because he's already done it so quickly. So I think maybe he might be maybe he's a type 3 too.
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, he likes challenges. I think he likes challenges. So we'll see.
Jen Harbin: Well, it's funny that you said I will push back a little on one thing you said because you said you're so goal oriented, which is so fantastic, and that you need to be connecting more people. Every time I see you, you are so present with the person you're with that a lot of times when people are so focused on getting through the next thing, they can have kind of give off the sense of, like, I got to get going. I can't talk to you for more than 20 seconds. I've got to walk my dog. Got to do this.
And I just never get that from you. I get that you ground yourself and you are just completely engaged with it's me. If it's your kids, I think that you are fantastic at connecting. I don't think you need any help in that area at all.
Elise Fallucco: Thank you. Well, it's because I like you so much, genuinely. It's like when you have motivation, it's like with ADHD, too. Even kids who have ADHD is a misnomer because it's not that you don't have attention. It's not that you're not good at paying attention. It's harder to pay attention when things are really boring. And so when you're motivated at something, you can super focus and do an amazing job.
And so, just like with me, I have the motivation to connect with you because you're so fun and I really think you're funny, obviously. And so it makes it look like I'm really good at this. But the reality is if I don't have that high motivation and I'm in the office and I have 1000 things to do and my coworkers are streaming by, for example, ahh, I'm like, I cannot deal. No connection allowed.
Colby Harris: I like hanging out with you guys too. This is fun. So just two more questions and on that note, because you just kind of led right into what I wanted to ask, talking about being in the office, being at these football games. Obviously as a mom, both of you have tons of things going on all the time, and you're still able to take the gold nuggets from your days to remember what's important or what you could do differently, what you could do better. You're always analyzing, and obviously we've been through a lot today about what parents could be doing for the kids and what to see in their kids and stuff. But I want to ask you more on your end as a parent.
What do you think parents could take from this episode today for their own benefit in parenting or any advice you have about how to maintain all these different things going on. The kids are going through stages of life. You're going through stages of life. I mean, what advice could you give to just continue to do your best as a parent or anything you've learned that you just wish you could share with other people?
Elise Fallucco: Yeah, I think it comes down to really the connection and the relationship. And I meant to say something earlier about it, but we try to do date nights or with our kids, or it's not even at night, but like one on one time with our kids, where it's just us trying to pay attention or one of us trying to pay attention to one of the kids. Even if it's for a half an hour or an hour once a week. But to build that relationship and try to learn, like, what are they into? Our daughter loves to ice skate, and so my husband will take her out to the local ice rink for open skate, and she loves that, and she looks forward to it, and that helps that relationship.
And so then when we're pushing back later, we're trying to withdraw from the parenting bank, like, all right, you got to empty the dishwasher. We have to do whatever it is that we already have enough in there from building up the positive relationship that it makes it a little bit smoother. And so I think making sure to connect one on one with each kid as much as you can and then more realistically as a family on a regular basis.
So just a practical tip that's something we do or try to do is you try to do at least one family meal a day, if we're lucky, and we can all sit down for a shared dinner. That may not happen every single night, but at some point we'll do that, and then we'll do this game rose, bud and thorn. I don't know if you've heard of it, but where each one of us goes around and says, and we probably do it the wrong way, but like a rose, what's the best thing that's happened today? Or something beautiful that's happened in the last 24 hours? A bud, which is like a smaller flower. And in our family, we interpret that to mean, like, something else that was cool but not as awesome as the big one.
Jen Harbin: I like that.
Elise Fallucco: And then the thorn is, like, the hard thing about the day, again, acknowledging, like, we are all going to have hard parts about the day and modeling for our kids. Like, yeah, I'm really stressed out about my job or about whatever's going on so that then I think we all sort of can feel connected in a really quick way. Like, this takes less than five minutes to go around the table, assuming one of the children doesn't get up seven times.
Jen Harbin: It's not just me, it's not just my house. [crosstalk] Rosebud Thorn.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I think that's awesome. Also. Anybody? Any other questions? Brian? Jen?
Jen Harbin: I can ask you questions all day. Just teach me, teach me second podcast when you come back. I'll have way more.
Colby Harris: Yeah, I think honestly, I'm just in awe. Honestly, it's been really cool to get to know your kids, obviously, Alex mainly the last couple of years, but I feel like, I feel like a bit of a parent to all these kids sometimes and super proud of Alex. And now it all totally makes sense now to sit down with you and get to learn a little bit more about your life.
So we really appreciate you coming on today. This has been an awesome episode. I'm super excited for everyone to see. I'm super psyched for my mom to see it. She's got a 17 year old daughter at the house, so I know she'll enjoy this episode. But nonetheless, you know that here at grit.org we have our Grit Creed, which is twelve principles we believe every person should lead their life by. I'm sure Alex hopefully walks around the house, reciting it, sing it to himself all the time. But if you could select an excerpt from that poem or that piece we have, is there anything that resonates with you and why?
Elise Fallucco: Yes. So be a problem solver, not a problem spotter. As a boss, in my real, it sounds like I'm in a boss, but in my real job, that's something that I think is really important in working with teams, is encouraging other people. Don't just complain, but come up with a solution or propose a solution, but we start that with our own kids. Or try to that when it's like Alex is like, mom, what can I do? This is day 500 of summer and I just need some structured activity and I can't do Grit camp the whole summer long.
We'll be like, okay, what do you think? Put it back on the kids. And as a parenting strategy, what do you think are things that you can do? Or when they're asking questions about what are we just encouraging them to be independent and think about that and trying to remind myself, like, how am I going to fix this? But then not get too obsessed about fixing.
Colby Harris: I love that.
Elise Fallucco: Also, I also totally forgot that I'm supposed to be promoting or that I wanted to let people know about PsychEd for Peds, which is the podcast that we recently started for Pediatric Clinicians, but is relevant for sorry, it's a child mental health podcast, and it's basically where we have little ten minute episodes where we talk about anxiety and behavior problems and autism and ADHD. And the intended audience is pediatric clinicians. But I think a lot of it's really relevant for parents. And I think we've talked about the cookie breathing on there and other strategies about managing anxiety. So check that out.
Jen Harbin: What's it called? Yeah, where do we find it? What's it called again?
Elise Fallucco: PsychEd for Peds. So psych with a capital E for psych education for peds. And it's about child mental health. It's on Apple podcasts, Spotify and wherever you listen to podcasts.
Jen Harbin: Oh, nice. We can put…
Colby Harris: Love it.
Elise Fallucco: Yes. Thank you.
Colby Harris: Awesome. All right, well, thank you again for coming on today. Any closing remarks over here? Anybody? We're good?
Jen Harbin: We just want to say thank you as someone who is a friend of ours, as someone who is just you just set such a wonderful example. I know that you said the problem solver is the thing that resonates with you, but when I think of you, I immediately think of I lead by example because my purpose is larger than me. And you set such a great example for me. Like I said, as a wife, as a mother, as a human being, as a friend, as a dog owner.
Elise Fallucco: As a dog owner.
Jen Harbin: We love our dog. We choose to love our dog.
Elise Fallucco: We choose to love is a choice. Love is a choice.
Jen Harbin: Love is a choice.
Elise Fallucco: It’s not a feeling.
Jen Harbin: It’s not a feeling.
Brian Harbin: I don't love it, but I can live with it.
Jen Harbin: I don't love it, but I can live with it.
Colby Harris: Sort of can…
Jen Harbin: Well, we were living with them, but you set such a great example, and I'm just so grateful for you in that. So I hope that you can come back I hope you can come back to school and share your wisdom with more parents that didn't get a chance to see you when you came in last time and just keep doing your thing.
Elise Fallucco: Thank you.
Jen Harbin: Just such an honor to know you and your family.
Elise Fallucco: Thank you. That's so sweet. And again, just very honestly, like, you guys see the polished achiever performance version and not behind the scenes so my kids may listen to this and be like, what?
Colby Harris: Stop the line. What's going on? Who is this lady on claiming to be my mom?
Elise Fallucco: Never seen comment. Yeah, they're not allowed to comment.
Colby Harris: Yeah, well, I'm pretty sure we know. I'm pretty sure. Alex has told me he's watched every single episode up until this point, so I think he will be probably seeing this one. I think he'll enjoy it, if anything. So, again, I second everything that Jen said. It's been awesome to have you here today. Hopefully, we can do a part two sometime in the future, find another way to collaborate. Obviously, there's a lot of intersection between your profession and what we're trying to do in the community of Jacksonville as well.
So, nonetheless, thank you again for coming on today. That's a wrap for us here at the Grit.org Podcast. Thanks for tuning in. Be sure to share this with someone you think it would resonate with or impact. As always, we appreciate you tuning in for another episode of the Grit.org Podcast.