web analytics
March 2, 2015 / 11 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


The Whole-Brain Child: An Effective Approach To Parenting


Schonfeld-logo1

Your toddler throws a tantrum in the middle of a store. Your preschooler refuses to get dressed. Your fifth-grader sulks on the bench instead of playing on the field. Do children conspire to make their parents’ lives endlessly challenging? No – it’s just their developing brain calling the shots!

(The Whole Brain Child, Daniel J. Seigel, MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD)

I have often been talking about parenting the “explosive child” or a child who struggles with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). In that context, I often mention Dr. Ross Greene’s groundbreaking work on using “Plan B.” However, recently, another approach has been gaining popularity. It is from Daniel J. Siegel, MD and is often used to promote “the whole-brain child.”

The strategies Seigel suggests are not just for explosive children, but everyday parenting struggles. Seigel explains that parents are often experts about their children’s bodies. They know how much temperature is considered a fever, the correct dosage of Tylenol, how to clean a cut and bandage it, and which foods they are allergic to. Interestingly, he points out that even educated and concerned parents know very little about how the mechanics of the brain work. Yet, the biology of the brain is responsible for so much of what parents care about: discipline, decision-making, self-awareness, school, relationships and self-esteem.

The more we know about how our children’s brains work, the better we will be able nurture stronger, more resilient children. Not only that, but it can make parenting easier and more meaningful. The goal of this article is to give you a taste of how Seigel’s “whole brain perspective” can be applied to everyday parenting moments. This is not a manual that will eliminate all the stress involved in parenting, however, it should help explain and tackle some often-inexplicable occurrences.

Integration

The main concept behind the whole-brain child is integration – creating connections between different parts of the brain. When the different parts of the brain collaborate, they create more robust connections. The better and more powerfully connected, or integrated, the different parts of the brain, the more harmoniously those parts can work together.

So, how can you recognize when your child’s brain (or your brain) is in a state of integration? Seigel explains that integration is like floating in the middle of a river – and avoiding the river’s two banks. One side, he explains is the bank of chaos, where you feel out of control. “Instead of floating in the peaceful river, you are caught up in the pull of the tumultuous rapids, and confusion and turmoil rule the day.” On the other bank of the river lies rigidity. As opposed to being out of control, you are “imposing control on everything and everyone around you.” You are unwilling to compromise or adapt.

We all move back and forth between chaos and rigidity throughout the day. When we are farthest from the middle of the river, we are also farthest from mental and emotional health. The better we are at avoiding the extremes, the more time we spend in “the river of well-being.”

Our children float along their own “rivers” and when we are in situations in which they lose their tempers or throw tantrums, framing their behavior through this lens can help us understand how well-integrated the different parts of their brains are at that moment. With this knowledge, you can help guide your child back to the middle ground.

Right and Left Brain

Your right and left brain not only are anatomically separate, they function differently as well. Your left brain craves order as it is logical, literal, and linear. On the other hand, your right brain is creative and nonverbal, focusing on the big picture rather than the minutiae of a situation.

How can you make sure your child’s left brain and right brain work together? Seigel suggests two strategies:

Connect and Redirect: If your eight-year-old is throwing a fit because he can’t believe his birthday isn’t for another 8 months, chances are that he is experiencing a lot of right brain (emotional or illogical activity). Rather than responding to your child with logical questions, which he will not be able to hear because he is in the midst of a wave of emotional thinking, react to him with emotions. Hold him tight and tell him that you understand how frustrating that might be. Once he is able to calm down, then you help him work through the problem logically. In this way, you are connecting to him through his left brain (emotions) and redirecting his emotions through his right brain (logic). This will help him become better integrated in the future as well.

Name It to Tame It: If your fourth grader is dealing with bullying at school, she is most likely experiencing painful or scary moments. These moments can be overwhelming and can flood your daughter with overpowering emotions. One way to help bring the left brain of logic into this right brain dominated picture, is to help your daughter retell the story of her pain. After retelling (or naming) the story several times, the pain she experienced is less overwhelming (is tamed).

Upstairs and Downstairs Brain

The brain is not just divided into two hemispheres, it also has an “upstairs” and a “downstairs.” Scientists identify the downstairs brain, made up of the brain stem and limbic system, as the part responsible for basic functions, such as breathing, blinking, instinctually reacting, and emoting strongly. The upstairs brain, with its cerebral cortex, is the place in which higher function mental processes take place, such as imagining, planning, empathy, and morality.

We are at our best when our instincts are in line with our higher-level thinking. Here is one suggestion of how to help our children integrate their upstairs and downstairs brains:

Use It or Lose It: Our brains are like muscles, so if we do not exercise them, they will not work to their fullest potential. While often as parents we have an urge to make decisions for our children so that we can guide them in the right direction, it is also important to allow your child to make his own decisions. For instance, if your child has a baseball game and a friend’s birthday party on the same day, it would help to involve him in the decision-making process. Not only will he be less likely to be upset about missing the event if he was part of the process, but you will also be teaching him about executive function and how to weigh different options to come to a conclusion.

The above examples are just a taste of what parenting the whole-brain child is about. Like most things dealing with the health and happiness of our children, it’s worth a try!

About the Author: An acclaimed educator and education consultant, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation,, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at rifkaschonfeld@verizon.net. Visit her on the web at rifkaschonfeldsos.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Whole-Brain Child: An Effective Approach To Parenting”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Some 1,500 teens from around the world at the Chabad CTeen convention hear a personal greeting from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 1, 2015.
Ban Ki-moon Greets 1,500 Jewish Teens at Chabad CTeen Convention
Latest Sections Stories
Golan Wine Medals

‘Double Gold’ awarded to 2012 Yarden Heights wine & 2011 Yarden Merlot Kela Single Vineyard.

Niehaus-022715

One should not give the money before Purim morning or after sunset.

Mendlowitz-022715-Basket

The mishloach manos of times gone by were sometimes simple and sometimes elaborate, but the main focus was on the preparation of the delicious food they contained.

Astaire-022715-Countryside

One of the earliest special Purims we have on record was celebrated by the Jews of Granada and Shmuel HaNagid, the eleventh-century rav, poet, soldier and statesman, and one of the most influential Jews in Muslim Spain.

Jews, wake up! Stop educating the world and start educating yourselves.

The lessons conform to the sensitivities and needs of the Orthodox community…

The program took on special significance as it marked not only the first anniversary of Rebbetzin Kudan’s levayah but also the 27th yahrzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, a”h.

It captures the love of the Jewish soul as only Shlomo Hamelech could portray it – and as only Rabbi Miller could explain it.

Erudite and academic, drawing from ancient and modern sources, the book can be discussed at the Shabbos table as well as in kollel.

I’m here to sit next to you and help you through this Purim with three almost-too-easy mishloach manot ideas, all made with cost-conscious paper bags.

Kids want to be like their friends, and they want to give and get “normal” mishloach manos stocked with store-bought treats.

Whenever he did anything loving for me, I made a big deal about it.

“OMG, it’s so cute, you’re so cute, everything is so cute.”

A program that started with a handful of volunteers has grown exponentially to include students from a wider array of backgrounds.

More Articles from Rifka Schonfeld
Schonfeld-logo1

Tutor. Counselor. The doctor too,
Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with you.

Schonfeld-logo1

Pioneering authors Peg Dawson and Richard Guare, in their book Executive Skills in Children and Adolescents, outline the ways that we employ executive skills regularly.

Because I get phone calls about this all the time, I have put together a quick “cheat sheet” with milestones for reading, writing, and math from first grade through high school.

The reason behind this is that when we ask our brains and bodies to make drastic changes, our fight or flight response kicks in and we become paralyzed.

Why is there such a steep learning curve for teachers? And what can we, as educators and community activists, do better in the educational system and keep first-year teachers in the job?

With so many new cases of ADHD reported each year, it is important to help children learn how to sit still.

While encouraging your child to take responsibility for bed-wetting (like asking him to change the sheets), remember that it is important not to get angry or make him feel guilty.

As we said, you cannot get rid of a bad habit, you can only change it. But, how?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/the-whole-brain-child-an-effective-approach-to-parenting-2/2012/10/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: