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Parenting

Neuroscience for Parenting

  • Oxytocin - Love hormone responsible of reorganizing neurons while parenting
    • Also responsible of Us vs Them behavior
    • In-group and out-group dynamics
    • Feeling part of a group (protect a group)

The Reptilian Brain

  • Survival of individual
  • When active: People act in treat stress mode
  • Active when there is danger / perceived danger
  • Responsible of dealing with life threatening situations
  • Works closely with limbic amygdala
  • Three ways of responding to a threat:
    • Flee
      • Lead to love, movement and change
    • Fight
      • Lead to challenges and winning
    • Freeze
      • Lead to sharing and caring
    • Standby - Active even where there is no active danger
      • Lead to contemplation and thinking
  • Reptilian Brain also gets activated when life is not in danger
    • Stress - Defense mechanism to a persevered danger
    • When feeling stresses
      • Flee -> Anxiety
      • Fight -> Aggressively
      • Freeze -> Helplessness
  • Reptilian Baby
    • During first 3 months, 90% of neural connections are disappeared based on surrounding
    • For a newborns slightest discomfort will trigger Reptilian Brain (life threatening)
    • For a baby cry is the only action but could be due to, Flee, Fight or Freeze:
    • Before 2-years, given them what they want
    • Prefrontal brain is responsible of Handling emotional pain
      • 17 years + development to avoid humiliation
      • 24 years + to fully develop
    • To handle stress of children - Show that you are on their side
      • Flee
        • Movement and avoid confrontation
          • Solution: Give options
          • Solution: Humor
      • Fight
        • Overpowering and winning
          • Solution: Share outrage
          • Solution: If kid is upset due to something you did, acknowledge feeling
            • "I understand you are angry right now"
            • "You have right to be upset"
      • Freeze
        • Looking for protection (ex: tears / not-doing-anything)
          • Solution: Offer support
          • Solution: Be there
      • Common Solution: Offer a hug (tell if they want a hug they can have it later)
        • Releases oxytocin. Bonding hormone.
        • Fight stress is defensive aggression, which happens when Reptilian Brain is active.
  • Movement
    • Main purpose of brain is to facilitate movement
    • 50% of neurons are from Cerebellum is responsible of coordination of movement
    • This is the part of brain mostly grown at first 3 months of a newborns
    • Hence, movement is key to development of a child
    • Climbing, balancing, obstacle avoidance increase the brain growth (any activity that require constant attention on what uld happen next)
  • Food
    • Sense of hunger is gen by hypothalamus
    • Brain is 73% water
    • 60% of remaining 28% is fat
    • Highest quality fat is: Omega 3, can be found in:
      • fatty fish (salmon, sadin)
      • Nuts
      • Milk and eggs (natural ones)
  • Sleep
    • Own bed rule
    • Co-sleeping is important

Paleolimbic Brain

  • Survival of group
  • When active: People act in very territorial way
    • Tries to impress and intimidate
  • Unconscious scripts inherited from education which regulates life
  • Responsible of:
    • Self-confidence
      • Too-much: Dominance - Think of himself as superior to others
      • Too-less: Submissiveness - Causes melancholic depression
    • Trust
      • Too-much: Axiality - Results in gullibility
      • Too-less: Marginality
  • limbic amygdala is responsible of parental instincts and territorial power games related to protecting kids
    • Ex: Fight with much larger predators when offspring is in danger
  • When someone is in this mode, better to let him calm down. No point of talking.
  • Paleolimbic Toddler
    • Paleolimbic brain activated at 2 / 2.5 + years
    • (Start playing together as a group)
    • Power-struggle and test others to see how long they can go
      • Don't start explaining things
      • No hugs / No nice guy
      • Show you are in charge at these situations
      • Let your kid win time to time, but with non-important things
      • Let kid learn consequences of their actions
      • Discipline the child and let them know they cannot do whatever they want
      • However, too much discipline is wrong and will become submissive
      • Don't threaten with a punishment and then not do it (don't reward for not complying)
      • Once 4 years + - make sure rules of the house is clearly defined (however, they will still test the limits)
      • Fluctuations of self-confidence stops only after 12 + years
    • Bullying
      • Is a dominant Paleolimbic behavior
      • Do role playing and teach child how to say "No no no" in bullying situations
      • Get bully to become a friend

Neolimbic Brain

  • Home to deepest motivations and raw emotions
  • Where memory resides
  • Identify situation and come-up with procedures to handle it
  • Highly efficient and free-up minimum required attention span to carry out a task. Hence, free-up mind to do multiple things at the same time (Drive and talk).
  • 3 layers of motivation
    • Intrinsic motivations
      • After 3 months will remain same throughout life
      • Could lead to 8 different personality types
      • Motivates you regardless of whether you like what you do
    • Extrinsic Motivations
      • Not fixed
      • Likes and dislikes
      • Blueprint of cultural influences (socially expectable)
      • Motivates you only if you like what you do (won't last forever)
        • Example: Motivation from a raise last 3 - 6 months
    • Obsessions
      • Passion that has gone over its tipping point
      • When obsessed we are not just free (never satisfied of what you do towards the subject of the obsession)
  • Expectations
    • The Pygmalion Effect - How we think about others will influence how they perform
      • Give list of high potential students (chosen just randomly) to a lecturer and measure success of students.
    • The Gollem Effect - Negative expectations lead to negative outcomes
    • Even when we try to hide our inner expectations, kids will pick those up from other signs
    • Expecting too much -> lead to raising insecure adults (with attachment issues)
      • Kids will feel that: if kids do not perform as expected, they do not deserve our love
    • No expectations -> lead to brats who do not know how to stand up for themselves
    • Focus on efforts not results
    • Actions
      • Discuss with your kids
      • Setup rules together
      • Challenge them
    • Look at the kids with love, compassion and pride. Look at their potential
    • You way of looking at them shapes who they will become
  • Punishments and reward
    • Never make a threat you will not act upon. This will damage your authority.
    • Types of punishments
      • Removing a toy
      • Timeout
      • Being grounded
    • Rules
      • Consequences have to be clear and accepted/agreed
        • If X happens what should be the consequences? Let them decide.
      • Transgressions should always have consequences
        • No punishment = reward
      • No drama
        • Explain what is the problem of doing X (Ex: wall paintings / fighting while driving)
        • Ask from kid why he is doing X
        • Give alternatives
        • Talk in isolation (individually)
  • Parenting Styles
    • Learned helplessness - By trying to make things easier in short term, we make things harder in long term
    • We should help but not right away. Let them try, get frustrated.
    • When child come to you, offer help. Next time, child will be able to solve the problem on their own.
    • The Attachment Theory
      • Kids require: Safety and Exploration
      • Securely Attached
        • Parents that are attuned to their desires.
        • Kids will fel secure when parents are around.
      • Avoidantly Attached
        • Parents emotionally withdrawn. Child will learn to independently grow.
        • Independent and mature. Fail to develop relationships with others. Not social.
      • Ambivalent/disorganized attached
        • Parents are inconsistent
        • Kids are confused. Grow to be more fearful.
    • Let kid explore. When a paint point arrives share a story where you also had a similar pain. Tell them it's normal to feel that way and it's part of the life. Tell them that you are there if they need you to.
  • Personality
    • Factors of Reptilian Brain, experiences during newborn period affect personality.
    • Forcing kids to become what we want to become if counterproductive.
    • Let children experience the life. Let them learn what they like. Fulfillment, Joy and Happiness is ultimate goal.
    • Don't always reward or cheer too much. Doing so, yo might turn intrinsic motivation into extrinsic.
  • Mindsets
    • Fixed mindset - Focused on the result.
      • Good grades is the focus.
      • You avoid taking risks due to this focus.
    • Growth mindset - Focused on the process
      • Putting effort in there and experimenting.
      • Enjoying the process (journey) and taking a challenge.
      • Less stress. Doesn't affect relationship.
  • Complements
    • Complements reenforce identity
    • Praise the effort (not the end result)
      • Don't say: You are the best / That's beautiful / You are smart
      • Say: You worked hard / You applied yourself / You like to learn new things don't you?
    • Don't overdo it.
      • Brain get used to Dopamine rush
      • Will need stronger incentives
      • Kid will like the praising more than the activity itself
  • Do not ridicule or joke about a child. Prefrontal brain is not grown to handle this.

Prefrontal Brain

  • Make humans unique: No other living creature has this structure the way we have it
  • Using Reptilian and Paleolimbic brain -> No connection with local thinking ability
  • Creating invocative solutions to the problem at hand
  • Adaptation / Creativity
  • Should be the one dealing with new and complex situations
    • Not always the case. Limbic brain might be used in a situations where Prefrontal should be used. Example:
      • Harry potter book was turned down by several publishers
      • Idea of a personal computer
    • Leads to resistance to change.
  • Use all our knowledge and creativity to see a possible future and then say "yes" or "no".
    • Might not be right decision
  • Home to:
    • creativity
    • intuition
    • spirituality
    • adaptability
  • WHen in use: we feel calmness and in full control.
  • Remaining calm:
    • Fast forward 10 years and think about it.
    • Look at the situation and imagine how it could be worst. Will enable Prefrontal and disable amygdala.
  • Learning
    • Force kids to make mistakes. And let them learn from mistakes.
    • Act of retrieving knowledge:
      • The more knowledge is retrieved, stronger the pathway in brain becomes
      • Let the kid do assignment on their own
      • Revisit with him later
      • Have them fail in the safe-environment and repeat until it's right.
    • Sleep improves memory by at least 15%
  • Adolescence
    • 90% of full size by age of 6
    • From age 12, go through re-wiring
      • Adolescence is the adaptive period
      • You should be there to support child's emotional needs (not the other way around)
      • Be the safe-haven
    • Age 24+ to fully mature brain
    • In human nature to product a creature optimally primed to leave a safe home and move into unfamiliar territory
      • Overcome fear of leaving safe world and take risks (and new allies)
    • Dopamine helps fast learning, takin risks
    • Oxytocin bounding hormone
      • Creates feeling of us vs them.
      • Creates hostility between you and teenager
    • In combination, creates a person:
      • Very active socially and sharing new stuff with them
      • Sensitive to peer pressure
    • Teenagers weight reward and risk differently. Dopamine make reward look better.
    • Look at the attitude that drives the actions (not the results).
      • Experimenting is not wrong.
    • Actions
      • Need framework and rules but flexible and evolving
      • They will need independence to answer social needs
        • If not give, Poleolimbic brain create a territorial battle
      • Stay connected
      • Put down rules (negotiate rules). You are not the enemy.
        • Get their point of view and adjust the rules as required.
        • Write consequences clearly.
      • Sleep is important. Create rules around that.
      • Language center mature at 13 years. After that we cannot pickup anything as a 2nd nature.
  • Screentime
    • Limit to less than 1-2 hours per day
    • Less than 3 years non at all
    • Due to:
      • Gray matter atrophy
      • Loss of white matter integrity
      • Reduced cortical thickness
      • Impaired cognitive function
    • Dopamine instant gratification
      • A rush with each game win, or video you watch
      • Kids never get this type of dopamine rush in non-screen environment
      • Therefore everything else becomes dull, and make you unable to focus
    • Humans are social animal by nature. Screen reduce social skills.
    • Sleep deprivation. Blue light LED, which disrupt melatonin.
    • Keep it controlled from the start.
  • Grit
    • Delayed gratifications (instant gratification was our nature because everyday could be the last)
    • Growth mindset
      • Love the process
    • Be demanding.But not too much, which could lead to Learned helplessness.
    • Be Demanding yet Supportive.
    • Our brain evolved for
      • instant gratification
      • energy efficiency
    • Try Harder. Put them in control. It's in your hand. Perception of Control.

Common

  • Submissiveness, Introversion and Shyness
    • Submissiveness
      • About obedience
      • Part of Paleolimbic Brain
      • Should be avoided
      • Talk: Is your kid bullied kicked upon
    • Introversion
      • Character traits
      • People who are introverted tend to be inward turning, or focused more on internal thoughts, feelings and moods rather than seeking out external stimulation.
      • Part of Neolimbic Brain
      • Talk: Is your kid like to be alone (introverted)
    • Shyness
      • About social fear
      • Part of Reptilian Brain (freeze)
      • Talk: Is your kid scared of others who he doesn't know
        • Invite same age kids to home (one at a time)
        • Introduce the kid to other one
        • Ask other kid some questions and then involve your kid on answers
  • Help delaying gratification
    • When you promise something do it
    • When they want something make them earn it
      • Action means reaction
      • There are consequences to actions
  • Birth Order
    • First Child - Parents have strong urge to do everything perfectly. More attention given by parents.
      • Reliable
      • Conscientious
      • Structured Cautious
      • Controlling
      • Achievers
      • Competitive mindset
    • Second Child - Parents are bit relaxed. Have sense of having control. If different gender than the first, second child may have first child characteristics.
      • People pleaser
      • Somewhat rebellious
      • Thrive on friendship
      • Large social circle
      • Peacemakers
    • Last Child - Grab whole family attention. Hence 2nd child is left out.
      • Fun loving
      • Uncomplicated
      • Manipulative
      • Outgoing
      • Attention seeker
      • Self centered
    • Only child becomes extreme First Child. And also, mature to his age, perfectionists, conscientious, diligent, leaders.
  • Main pillars for healthy brain
    • Sleep
    • Movement
    • Diet
    • Grit
  • Three golden rules
    • Setup a framework (set of rules)
    • Let them experiment without too much adult interventions
    • Avoid public humiliations
  • You are on their side. Take away the perceived danger.
  • Communication on the level of emotions. Offer guidance.

Family Meetings

  • https://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/
  • https://www.rootsofaction.com/family-meetings/
  • plan weekly schedules/calendars so everyone knows what each person will need to do and what commitments have been made.
  • share information that will effect family members.
  • have fun together.
  • make family decisions about vacations, recreation or other activities.
  • It is truly an opportunity for your children to feel SEEN, HEARD, and UNDERSTOOD by you (since everyone is equal)
  • Introducing Family Meetings to Children
    • take time to introduce the concept to your children before you dive in
      • you’ve recently learned how weekly meetings can benefit families by helping them communicate and solve problems together as a team
      • Because family meetings work toward building consensus, everyone has a voice and a role in solving problems.
      • Meeting time is also an opportunity to have fun, plan trips, organize family outings and service projects, and appreciate each other
  • specific problem
    • Decide who is involved.
    • Each person states his perspective and viewpoint about the problem.
    • Ask each person for suggestions
    • Write down the suggestions.
    • Develop a plan of action.
    • At the end of the session, set a time for a follow up meeting to evaluate
    • Have a follow up meeting.
  • make sure:
    • Value everyone’s input.
    • Treat all members as equals.
    • Avoid letting one person dominates.
    • Keep the family meeting short (no longer than 15 minutes).
    • Using “I” Statements (over “You” statement)
      • “I would like” (tell what you want to happen instead)
  • to make it interesting
    • include refreshments.
    • include an opening activity that highlights positive family events or achievements or affirms individual family members.
      • Example – best thing I did today, trait I like about myself, (or about someone else in family)
    • set an agenda so that everyone knows what will be discussed.
    • establish ground rules, such as:
      • no interruptions
      • no put downs
      • everyone is listened to
      • respect each other’s opinions
      • everyone has a chance to contribute
    • Sharing leadership
    • Being flexible
    • Keeping Minutes
  • Family Meeting Agenda
    • Open Meeting - with a poem, prayer, song, candle-lighting, etc.
    • Appreciations - each family member to appreciate, say “thanks,” compliment, or acknowledge other members on positive things they noticed this week
    • Discovery Time - learning together as a family
    • Week in Review
      • What worked well in our family this week?
      • What went wrong in our family this week?
      • What will we work on this coming week?
    • Problem-Solving
      • resolving problems or issues that individual family members have placed on the agenda
      • try to solve only one problem a week
    • Weekly Planning
      • Trips, concerts, sports events
      • chores
    • Fun Activity - playing a game, watching a movie, or making pizza together

Power Struggle

  • Misbehave to:
    • Belong
    • Feel loved
    • feel powerful
    • Feel valuable
    • Feel like they have a place
    • Experiment and explore
  • Adlerian Psychology
  • Misbehaving = Discouraged (from getting one of these needs met).
  • Identify child's mistaken goals and provide a better way of getting to those.
  • Mistaken Goals
    • Attention
      • Feel special and feel loved by keeping parent busy
      • Parent Feel: Irritated, annoyed, frustrated, distracted, manipulated
    • Power
      • Parent Feel: Provoked, anger, challenged
    • Revenge
      • I feel hurt, hence I'm going to make you hurt
      • Parent Feel: Hurt, mad, want to get even
    • Avoidance
      • Parent Feel: Feel sorry for child, despair, helpless coaxes or shows pity
  • Side Stepping the Power Struggle
    • Joy of Opposing when Power Struggle with someone
    • Drop parent's end of tug of war by stopping talking
      • Without disrespecting or doing something mean.
  • Preventing Joy of Opposing
    • Do not escalate your emotional response. (Example: Loud "no"s with each attempt)
    • Respond like a broken record (repetition)
    • To play in garden, you are going to learn not to do X. And drop child in a different place, until child stop doing X
    • Repetition and Redirection. Cannot learn when in a power struggle - in stress (reptilian brain). Repetition help keeping prefrontal brain active and learn.
  • Kind and Firm
    • Find middle ground between kindness and firmness
    • Better to be more firm than kind
    • Given-in from time to time, but don't let them completely win power struggle.
    • Dance of Corporation
  • How to Get Out of A Power Struggle
    • Use loving guidance
      • Words fuel power struggle. Use less words (no is better).
      • Approach calmly. Use eye contact / non-verbal signals to give the message.
    • Find useful ways for the child to feel valuable and powerful
      • Example: Give his own drawer in kitchen for his stuff
    • Teach them to say "no" respectfully
      • If saying "no" was not an option, kids will find alternatives like arguing
    • Offer choices
      • Choices should be aged appropriately to let the kid feel empowered
        1. Concrete choices
        2. "Do you want to wear the red pants or the blue pants?"
        1. Choices with incentives
        2. "Do you want to go to bed now and I'll read you 3 stories or go to bed in 5 minutes and I'll read you one story?"
        1. Playful choices
        2. "Do you want to walk to bed or run to bed?"
        1. Immediate choices
        2. "Do you want to go to bed now or now?"
        1. Choices with consequences
        2. "You may play with the truck on the floor or choose a soft toy to play with on the table. If you run the truck on the table again, I will take the truck away."
    • Do the unexpected
      • Do something unexpected / fun to break the attention to power struggle
      • Then get back to the original task. Don't let the kids get away
      • Example: Dance before bed (when power struggling about bed time)
    • Win/Win negotiate
      • Flexible
      • Usable with a child who does what he say he will
      • Negotiate what happens if task is not done
        • If child is not accountable with the negotiation, don't use this technique
      • "I see that's a win for you and I want you to win. But I want to win too......"
    • Let go of your position
      • Listening to child
    • Use a signal
      • Let child make a signal (word of a sign) to start a task
      • Example: "Broccoli" is the sign to "stop fighting"
  • Preventing Power Struggles
    • Talk Less (use actions)
    • Use One Word (in sing sung voice)
    • Be firm and kind - and follow through
      • Do what you say. Show that you mean the consequences.
    • Say no in a friendly way
      • That’s not an option
      • I am unwilling...
      • Say it in a funny way, i.e. "Never in a million trillion years!"
      • Sing, no, no, no!
      • That’s not appropriate.
      • I am not ready for you to do that yet. (Great for teens)
      • For a younger child, use distraction
      • Ask, "What do you think you would need to do before I would be willing to say yes to that?"
      • Ask, "What do you think? Is this a good choice for you?" (If you choose this, make sure you are willing to abide by her answer)
      • For a youngster that has something you don’t want him to have say, "That’s not a toy."
      • Ask, "What are your other options?"
      • No, but I would be willing to...
      • I appreciate your asking, however...
      • Walls are not for coloring. Here is a piece of paper.
      • Tell them what to do instead i.e., "Water needs to stay in the tub."
      • This is not negotiable
    • Let them have the last word
      • Don't give in (and show that if forced enough you are ready to do something)
      • Be patience and just wait until kid give up
    • Catch them doing well and acknowledge them
      • Little reward (ex: join and play with them) when doing well
    • Let them know how valuable they are to you
      • Ex: Appreciate a hug
    • Make it fun
    • Seek first to understand
    • Don’t major in the minors
      • Pick on the battles you can win
      • If most things are flexible, kids tend to be more likely to comply with your major requests
    • Use GEMS (Genuine Encounter Moments)
      • See world through the child's eyes and be with him
      • Take 3 minutes to 30 seconds to handle a GEM
      • Let them feel: "What is important to me, is important to my parent"
      • Cannot handle all GEMS. Hence, depending on importance of your work handle some.
      • Options:
        • Do a GEM
        • Set temporary limit: It's OK to tell him to give 10 minutes. But make sure you'll be there by 10 minutes (Trust).
        • Redirect the attention.