Over the years there have been a lot of books that have been influential in my life and work on the topic of parenting. Whether I am navigating my own parenting with my three year old boy and my soon to be six year old daughter, teaching a parenting seminar, or working with parents in my counseling office — parenting is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.
It is in the process of parenting that we experience both our highest highs and our lowest lows. Often within seconds of each other.
Thanks to a friend (Annie McClellan), I was introduced to the book, The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies To Nurture Your Child’s Mind by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D.. In fact, Annie wrote a lengthy series on each of the strategies that I highly recommend you read.
The Whole Brain Child Approach
What I have felt over the years in my own parenting and with the parents I work with is that we often get stuck in a rut of revolving our parenting skills around consequences and punishment. Let’s face it, raising kids is hard work and a day doesn’t go by (probably a minute really), where it doesn’t feel like we are trying to keep kids in line, harp on them about the rules, until eventually we are just exhausted and we have no energy to try anything else.
So what drew me to this whole brain child approach were a few things:
First, this approach was an opportunity to expand my parenting tools to something broader than the rut I was stuck in myself, or that I was offering up to parents.
Second, I’m fascinated by the Interpersonal Neurobiology work of Daniel J. Siegel, especially in the areas of attachment and relationships.
Third, I witnessed some parents using the whole brain child approach with their kids and seeing great results.
Fourth, I was instantly drawn into the book when on pages viii & ix I read these lines:
“the moments you are just trying to survive are actually opportunities to help your child thrive…But at the same time, they are opportunities–even gifts–because a survive moment is also a thrive moment, where the important meaningful work of parenting takes place.”
This idea that are most difficult times in life are actually opportunities to thrive resonated with me, and especially my work on anxiety where I believe that anxiety is one of our greatest opportunities of growth. And few areas in life raise our anxiety like that of parenting.
The Whole Brain Child Blog Series
So I’ve decided that over the next 4-6 weeks I’m going to write about this approach to parenting, in order to help me better clarify this approach in my own parenting and life, but to also be of aid to you in your parenting. And what I hope you will see is that as parents we are all on this journey of ups and downs called parenting. My goal is this series is to:
- be succinct which can be hard for a wordy person like me (so short posts around 500 words).
- to be practical by sharing the strategies with you and some suggestions for use.
- to be personal by sharing my own successes and failures in using this approach.
- and to bring other insights in how this approach (which is written with children 12 and under in mind) can be applied to others areas of life like marriage, masculinity, etc.
I hope that you will join me on this journey as we interact on one of the most important tasks in life…parenting.
So for now, let me leave you with a quote that I love regarding this approach.
“What’s great about this survive-and-thrive approach is that you don’t have to try to carve out special time to help your children thrive. You can use all of the interactions you share–the stressful, angry ones as well as the miraculous, adorable ones–as opportunities to help them become the responsible, caring, capable people you want them to be. That’s what this book is about: using those everyday moment with your kids to help them reach their true potential.” (pp. ix)