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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

MORE Whole-Brain Child book tips

Since many of you wrote to me this week saying the Whole-Brain Child book review I did by Daniel Siegel was helpful to you, I went back through the book seeking more tips that may be of use to we parents striving to do the best we can with our wee ones. Here is the first post:

More on the Connect and Redirect 
-First connect with physical touch, facial expressions that show empathy, nurturing tone of voice, nonjudgmental listening, etc. (page 24)
-Connecting first to the right side of the brain allows a frustrated, overwhelmed, upset child to feel heard, understood and OK. It helps to balance the emotions of the right brain. Only then can you "appeal to the left side of the brain" and get your child to see logic or understand your directions.
-Then you redirect with the left side of the brain by logically explaining what you want to say.

The author says this does not always work, but in many cases it will be just what your child needs and just what you need to get through to him. Sometimes what a kid needs is sleep or to eat, which in those cases you can't really get through to them in this way. Sometimes a child is "past the point of no return," too emotional and upset to even be able to be calmed down this way. The author also does not encourage letting kids get away with anything. Having rules is still important. These are just general guidelines.

On page 27 the author wrote, "... with the whole-brain approach, we understand that it's generally a good idea to discuss misbehavior and its consequences after the child has calmed down, since moments of emotional flooding are not the best times for lessons to be learned."

He suggested that discipline works best after a child is calmed down and more receptive to what we have to say.

"It's as if you're a lifeguard who swims out, puts your arms around your child, and helps him to shore before telling him not to swim out so far next time. The key here is that when your child is drowning in a right-brain emotional flood, you'll do yourself (and your child) a big favor if you connect before you redirect. This approach can be a life preserver that helps keep your child's head above water, and keeps you from being pulled under along with him."

Name It to Tame It 
Encouraging a child to tell a story and explain what happened for them, an experience they have gone through, makes the world make better sense to them.

On page 27, Siegel wrote, "When a child experiences painful, disappointing or scary moments, it can be overwhelming, with big emotions and bodily sensations flooding the right brain. When this happens, we as parents, can help bring the left hemisphere into the picture so that the child can begin to understand what's happening."

Instead of just brushing off what happened ("Oh, you're OK, no need to cry, you're fine, just go to sleep," etc.) we should allow them time to feel what they feel and process it.

Sometimes parents avoid talking about upsetting or scary things because they are afraid to make it worse, the author wrote. On page 29, he continued, "Actually, telling the story is often exactly what children need, both to make sense of the event and to move on to a place where they can feel better about what happened."

Some great ideas!

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