Select Page

This was originally an article in the Self-Reg Parenting Magazine Vol 1 Issue 2.

Take a look at this picture and tell me whether there’s something in the duck’s bill:

Now take a look at this picture and tell me whether there is something in the rabbit’s mouth:

This phenomenon is called an “aspect-shift,” and it applies just as much to how we see kids as to how we see ambiguous visuals.

I can paint you a verbal picture of a child who is resisting working on a math problem. He comes up with a million excuses why he can’t do it, or gives up at the slightest hurdle, and all you see is a child who’s too lazy or unmotivated to work at math. But once you understand the Self-Reg distinction between lazy and limbic, and how, when a child’s “limbic brakes” are triggered they block his ability to concentrate, you’ll see a completely different child before your eyes.

But there’s one big difference between the two examples. In the case of the duck-rabbit, all that’s involved here is where you focus your gaze. But in the case of the child, the second you see a different child, everything about how you engage with that child changes in a split second.

Instead of being frustrated or annoyed, you see before you a child who is over-stressed. Questions suddenly occur to you that you would never have thought of when you saw him as lazy. For example:

  • Why did this problem or task over-stress him?
  • Was he overstressed to begin with, and if so, why?
  • What can you do to reduce his overall stress load?
  • What can you do to reduce the cognitive stress of the math problem?
  • What can you do to help him restore so that he has both the energy and the desire to tackle the problem again?

But there’s an even bigger difference between the two examples. In the case of the child, the second you see him differently everything about your body language changes. Your facial expression, eye gaze, tone of voice, gestures, posture all soften as a result of your aspect-shift. And the child picks up on all this: especially a child who has “gone Red Brain.” In an instant, he doesn’t just mirror but actually shares your calmness.

What’s involved here isn’t just a shift in how you perceive a child’s behaviour. A child responds intuitively to the change that he senses in you. This is the reason why, when you see a child differently, you quite literally see a different child.

Self-Reg Seeds Learning Journey Symbol of a seed sprouting 2 leafs

What is Self-Reg?

Self-Reg is a pathway to calm, resilience, motivation, learning, & well-being.

Early Years



The Shanker Method

5 Domain Framework

Free Self-Reg 101 Webinar

Our Mission & Values

About Stuart Shanker

Self-Reg Sunrise Learning Journey symbol of a sunrise over a leaf

Explore how learning Shanker Self-Reg can help your approach to behaviour, dysregulation, emotions and any of the challenges that brought you to Self-Reg as a someone who cares.

Level 1 Certificate Programs

*NEW* Education Assistants

Early Childhood Development

Self-Reg Foundations

School Leadership

ASK Courses

Reframing Bullying

Enhancing Resilience

Self-Reg Parenting

Learning for Teams

On-Demand Webinars

Upcoming Events

Summer Symposium

Book a Presenter

Self-Reg Quilt Learning Journey Symbol of a leaf in a patch of a quilt

Self-Reg can be practical, community based and woven with other initiatives, movements or priorities. How can you bring Self-Reg to your community or context?

What is Applied Self-Reg Knowledge?

Blogs & Vlogs


Webinars & Upcoming Events

School Leadership Certificate

Learning Facilitator's Certificate

Living, Learning & Linking Certificate

Self-Reg Schools Handbook


Mentoring & Consulting

Self-Reg Haven Learning Journey Symbol of two hands holding and nurturing a leaf up

Havens are our dream for all! A Self-Reg Haven is a place where everyone feels safe in every way: physically, emotionally, socially, and culturally.

I Know a Haven When I Find One

5 Self-Reg Haven Look Fors

Havens 101: Group Learning

RADAR Project Planning Tool

Self-Reg Schools Handbook

Enhancing Resilience in Children and Youth Certificate Program Image of a person's silhouette in front of an orange sunset

Enhancing Resilience In Children & Youth

Certificate Program Starts June 20th

Facilitated Certificates

Self-Directed Courses

On-Demand Webinars

Events - Live & Online

Tools & Strategies

Speakers & Presentations

Books & Publications

Blogs & Vlogs


Graphics with Blogs



Translated Resources

Media Releases

Meet Our Team


Contact Us