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These notes are taken from The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture your Child’s Developing Mind, written by a neuropsychiatrist and and psychotherapist, who together in this book, examine everyday parenting challenges, and share how to survive, and ultimately, to help your family thrive.
We’ve all had those days – it is inevitable on this side of eternity, given our sin nature. Those days where our temper may be short, our children may be hungry, and all may seem lost.
Yet it’s not.
You can turn this around, mama. You can still nurture your child and refresh your own perspective on the day.
Connection is key – you are guiding a child, a human being with intrinsic value, one who is daily learning and growing – remembering this will truly alter the way you view your child’s development.
Just do the next right thing, step back, take a deep breath, and focus on what you see and the little person in front of you.
Here are a few specific ways to do just that…
4 Things To Do To Nurture Your Child’s Development
Help your child regulate and calm their stress responses (fight, flight, freeze)
Heading straight to reasoning with your child will not work when he is disconnected and dysregulated. This is where your focus should be on the need behind the response – everything we do has a root cause. Instead of trying to reason something that will go over your child’s head, offer reassurance and soothe his fears/anxieties. Read: when he is stressed, overstimulated, tired, and in other words “having a fit.”
Next, connect and relate with your child through attuned, sensitive relationship.
Empathy and validation are powerful tools which help your child feel seen, heard, and understood. This serves your parent-child relationship for years to come, and is a stable foundation for your child to learn how healthy relationships work through life. Connection is a pivotal key in nurturing your relationship with your child as well as your child’s development in all areas of self and life.
After connection, correction is possible, and your child is able to fully engage in learning
This is where you can help your child reflect, remember, articulate, and be self-assured. Get down low: standing over your child can make them feel overwhelmed, while kneeling down at their level creates safety. A child who feels connected to his or her people and safe with them, is a child who will flourish and grow into who she is called to be, into a healthy human. Remember Jesus in the Gospels: “Let the little children come to Me.”
After reassuring and guiding your child, let them play.
Acting out scenarios with stuffed animals, or simply shifting gears into play is nature’s greatest self-regulator. Another phrase for this is “simulate to stimulate,” or walking through solutions with stories, puppets, art, or play, which makes the lesson easy to remember. This is a wonderful way to reiterate an important lesson in a format your child will understand.
A wonderful example of this entire process is evident in each episode of the popular PBS Kids show, Daniel Tiger!
+ 2 Things To Remember…
Your child is just that: still a child.
He cannot possibly know everything you know about keeping your emotions in check and how to articulate them in an appropriate and healthy way. He is still learning, every single day. Give your child grace – the same that we pray to God for each day. Just because your child is a minor doesn’t make him any less worthy of God’s unconditional grace and love. We can mirror this in our parent-child relationship by walking alongside our children, guiding them and teaching them healthy ways to work through emotions each day.
Remember, as much stress as we put on perfection to the outside world (hello, social media), perfection is just a facade.
It’s not true for anyone – not you, not me, and definitely not our kids who are decades younger. The only perfect person who has ever walked this earth was Jesus Christ over 2000 years ago. Are you projecting the perfection that can only come from God, onto your own family members? When we frame it this way, we see how it can become a slippery slope in our relationships. Let’s not make this devastating theological and relational mistake – especially with our children.
Here area a few resources to help you in nurturing your child:
How do you help your child learn about how their emotions and mind work, in the every day? Could you see yourself implementing some of these processes? Are the reminders helpful to you as you interact with your child?
~Katherine Newsom writes at Simple Natural Mama
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