Lots of new stock arrived for Autumn! And lots on sale over in my SALE section too! More joggers due in 2-3 weeks (sorry I can't take pre-orders).Thanks for visiting my site, Lucy x

Summary of the main findings of the best parenting book I've ever read...

The Whole Brain Child by Dr Daniel J Siegel and Dr Tina Payne Bryson is the best book on parenting I've ever read (and I've read a few now!). I can't recommend it highly enough, I just wish I had read it sooner when my kids were a bit younger! Not only does it provide a fascinating insight into how the brain works, from when a child is born through to maturity, it gives information and practical strategies on how to nurture a developing mind, to ensure your children are happier and more fulfilled, and as a result you (and the whole family) are too! Here are some of the main findings that I think may be of interest, they have certainly been very useful to me.

.

- to have the best mental health, we all need all parts of our brain working together, that is the right and left hemispheres, and the downstairs and upstairs of our brains too.

.

- our left hemisphere is where logic and reason happens, and the right hemisphere is where emotions are felt.

.
- the downstairs of our brain is the more primitive part and responsible for basic house keeping such as breathing and swallowing, and fight or flight etc. The upstairs is the more sophisticated part and responsible for creativity, intelligence and non essential 'fun' stuff. The brain works best when all these different parts are working in conjunction with each other. 
.
- connections between different parts of the brain aren't there initially but need to be set up over time. The more the connections are made, the stronger they will be. This is what children need help with!
.
- the way a brain works and thinks can change over a life time, which may even effect the shape of it! The part of the brain which is being used most will grow more.
.
- when kids are young they rely on the primitive downstairs part of their brain, as the upstairs does not develop until later... for the first few years they rely almost solely on their primitive brains, which helps to explain melt downs and tantrums. They just haven't got the ability to control primitive feelings and emotions until much much older, and that is what we can help them with. (Since I found out this, I have been a little more patient I think; meltdowns are not actually 'their fault', it's just that their brains haven't matured fully, and that's where parents / carers can come in!) 
.
- when a child is having a severe melt down or experiencing extreme emotions, rather than shutting them down and telling them to 'be quiet', which is effectively closing down the primitive part of the brain that is working at that time, it's better to connect with them first, by telling them you understand how they are feeling, in the hope that we can then open gateways to the rest of the brain, which they refer to as 'connecting'. You should connect with your child when they are in a 'state', and make them feel 'felt' before anything else. This will then make them a bit calmer and then you can employ the left side of the brain so that they can make sense of their big emotions and apply logic to it. They call this 'connect and redirect'. Doing this is effectively opening up the pathways between the different parts of the brain and getting them to work in conjunction with each other. And the more often this happens, the more readily the different parts of the brain will work together in the future
.
- children often don't understand their 'big feelings' and it really helps them if you 'name' their emotion so that it is normalised. The authors call this 'name it, to tame it'. 
.
- telling stories and writing journals is a brilliant way for kids to understand and make sense of their feelings and big emotions. Instead of telling kids to 'stop being silly', you could tell them a story involving a similar emotion, or get them to tell a story about this emotion. 
.
- feelings and emotions are only a temporary state! They might take over your whole mind (and even body!) at the time, but apparently the average emotion only lasts 90 seconds. It might help your child to remind them of this... however they are feeling is not going to last forever. I have found knowing this very useful!
.
- you can help your kids to be happy, healthy and fully themselves by paying attention during the everyday ordinary (mundane!) experiences you share with them.
.
- realise that negative situations, like a severe tantrum in a supermarket, can actually be turned into a positive one, by facilitating the correct connections in a child's brain.
.
- make your kids feel seen, heard and cared for at all times
.
- there is nothing more important you can do as a parent than to be intentional about the way you're shaping your child's mind, what you do matters, profoundly.
.
- self, family and community are fundamentally connected neurologically. Even in our busy, driven, and often isolated lives, we can remember this fundamental reality, that we are all interdependent and connected with one another
.
- when your child tells you something that you might think is ridiculous, like they are afraid they might be taken away by aliens in the night, try to avoid 'dismissing & denying', for example, try not to say 'oh darling, don't be silly, of course that won't happen'. Instead try to empathise with them and engage and talk through why they are thinking that and apply logic to explain why it probably won't happen
.
- let your child make decisions, don't always make them for them. 
.
- if a child is an extreme emotional state of some sort, then try exercising... 'move the body to avoid losing the mind', the authors state. Eg if a child is very anxious then try getting them to do 10 star jumps!
.
- the book also has a section on parents and their primitive brain which was really interesting. Of course sometimes, even as adults, our primitive brain can take over (where the term 'flipping your lid' comes from!) and we might say something, or do something we regret if our kids are being really naughty... this is only human ... HOWEVER it's really important to recognise that it is the primitive brain acting, and it needs to be overcome by the more sophisticated parts of the brain... so if you find yourself getting extremely angry with your child, then close your mouth to stop yourself saying something you regret, and if needs be, remove yourself from the situation so that you don't do something you later regret. Take a breather and collect yourself until you feel calmer, and your upstairs brain has taken control of the downstairs. Then reconnect as quickly as possible with your child to make them feel safe and loved once again. 
.
- if your child is very traumatised by something, then you could try the DVD / remote player method. The brain remembers things by 'associations' - and if a child has been very upset by something, for example they were at a beach when there was a very big wave, then they might get very upset every time they see the sea in the future. In this case, it might help to talk through exactly what happened on that day... tell them that the story of the occasion is being played on a DVD player, and that they have control of the remote. Either you, or they can start to tell the story, and when they get upset you can give them the option to fast forward to a less upsetting bit. It will make them feel in control and more likely to open up and talk. Over time you can then go back to the story and go over it again and again, until they let you play the whole DVD/story... then by making sense of what happened and applying logic to it should help them get over the trauma.
- don't forget that to discipline means TO TEACH, not to punish. 
.
- your kids relationship with each other depends on how much fun they have with each other NOW. So ensure they have many good times together, for example watching a movie or going on a bike ride!
.
- MOST IMPORTANTLY: don't forget to have fun with your kids! Play games, tell jokes, just be silly! Your relationship with them now, and in the future depends on it!
These are really only snippets from this really amazing book. I really can't recommend it highly enough. Available from Amazon here
Lucy x

--

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published