Laura Fish on Navigating Uncertainty with Children

This episode explores strategies for navigating uncertainty and difficult emotions with young children. Laura Fish discusses the "4 Ds" that adults often use when facing challenges - dismiss, deny, distract, direct - and how these reactions can negatively impact child development. She introduces the "4 As" framework as an alternative: acknowledge, attune, adopt, ask. Topics covered include emotional intelligence, self-regulation, attachment theory, and supportive coaching for early childhood educators.
· January 5, 2024

Laura Fish is a marriage and family therapist and consultant in education. Her trainings help adults adopt science-based approaches to teaching and parenting. Laura has over 25 years of experience working with children and families, first as a preschool teacher and later as a mental health consultant partnering with schools and agencies to support children with special needs. She became certified in EMDR trauma therapy and has been a home visitor, early interventionist, therapist, and more. Laura now splits her time between her therapy practice and consulting in early childhood education. Her blend of classroom and clinical expertise makes her trainings relatable and thought-provoking. Laura creates content drawing from fields like neuroscience and child development to help participants implement equitable, inclusive practices grounded in science.

In this session, Laura shares innovative strategies to help both children and adults navigate uncertainty and challenges with greater ease and wisdom. Drawing on experience as an Early Years Educator and Therapist, Laura reveals:

  • The brain’s innate negativity bias causes us to react to uncertainty by Dismissing, Denying, Distracting or Directing. Laura coined these tendencies the “4 Ds”.
  • The “4 Ds” fail to truly support children in working through difficulties. Instead, Laura advises deploying the “4 As” – Acknowledge, Attune, Adopt, Ask.
  • Acknowledging the challenge meets the child’s need to feel heard and understood. Attuning opens a gateway to gather their inner perspective. Adopting a regulated stance creates safety for co-exploration. Asking later on scaffolds their own problem-solving.
  • The “4 As” align closely with the “4 S’s” of attachment – helping children feel Seen, Soothed, Safe and Secure. This builds crucial emotional resilience.
  • Coaching builds educator confidence and competence in using approaches like the “4 As”. Video review holds a mirror to unconscious habits while spotlighting strengths.
  • Conceptual clarity on the “why” and “how” cements lasting second order change vs surface level techniques. This allows customisation across diverse settings.

At once simple and profound, Laura’s insights offer teachers and parents a roadmap for turning uncertainty into an opportunity for growth – by working smarter with children’s emotions, not just harder.


Website for consulting work:
Website for therapy work:
Article related to this topic:

The Whole Brain child by Dan Siegal and Tina Payne Bryson

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