Loving Parenting: Part 1

Happy October!  Wow, I can't believe it is already October!  Halloween is just around the corner.  I have already started going to fall festivals and parties - love it.   Last Saturday I was at a party in my neighborhood that was so much fun.  Cool brisk air, football on (even though Ohio State almost lost), crisp smells.  Mmmmm....

Although the party was lots of fun and I had a great time talking and enjoying the company of some amazing people, I also found myself in a rather unsettling conversation with another mom who was at wits end with her 4 year old daughter.   

I get it, parenthood is tough!  There is no manual, and we are just trying to do better than our own parents did.

 I don't usually use these newsletters to give out parenting advice - but I really have felt a push this week to throw out some friendly stress-free parenting tips.  I feel like everywhere I turn I am finding parents who want the best for their kids, but are just struggling. 

 That's why I want to talk to you all today about using brain science to guide your children.  I'm not going to get into all the science, but the gist is that we have two sides of our brain. 

The right side that is impulsive and emotional and the left side that is rational and intellectual.

Childrens' right side is developed far quicker than the left side of the brain - that means they have a harder time regulating their emotions, are not able to stop certain behaviors by themselves and need more help processing through feelings. 

Our job as parents is to help children expand their right brains creativity, while helping them understand how to regulate themselves.  We can do this by attuning and teaching them emotional intelligence.  There are tons of books written on this, including  Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child byDr. John Gottman.

 In case you don't have time to read the full-book, let me give you a quick example. 

What do you do when your 4-year old hits a little boy in your backyard and the little boy starts crying?

 Spank them, put them in time out, yell at them??

Nope.  Realize that your 4-year old is acting out some sort of emotion.  You need to help him regulate the right side of their brain before you are able to teach them or guide them.  You can help them regulate, by picking them up, removing them from the situation calmly and telling them why you are removing them. 

Your child may throw a fit, try to hold him or her until they are feeling more calm.  Try teaching the child breathing techniques, like taking a deep breath in and out.  Also, try to empathize with your son, by saying, "I see that you are angry about something.  What is that?"  This will help your son see why they hit the child - don't make their feeling wrong - just listen. 

Now, once the child is calmer and the left side of the brain is available - it becomes a teaching moment.  This is when you can explain to your child that hitting is not the right way to show emotion and teach them another way to show anger.  You can also teach them emotional intelligence by helping them to understand how he made the other little boy feel.  "How do you think Garrett felt when you hit him?  Would you like to feel that way?"

Yes - this takes a lot more time then grabbing your child and spanking them or putting them in a time-out.  However, it also supports the connection between the two of you and helps them to be happier, more regulated children. 

I know this is a short excerpt of a really important concept - but this is a newsletter.  I will write more next week.  In the mean time - if you are interested in learning how to guide your child, build stronger bonds with your child and overcome some behavior problems - I recommend you start with yourself and read some amazing books on this topic. 

Just click one of the links below to start understanding these concepts better: 

 Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child byDr. John Gottman

The Whole-Brain Child Dan Siegel

No Drama Discipline by Dan Siegel

 "You cannot fill another's cup if yours is empty"

Do you have any other awesome parenting suggestions?  If so, let me know in your comments below. 

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Valerie KolickComment