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How To Raise A Child With A Nurtured Mind - Simigarten

How To Raise A Child With A Nurtured Mind

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To communicate with children effectively (where they listen to you when you need them to), you need to know what is going on in their brains.

 

You don’t have to study psychology or pedagogy to understand the fundamental processes in a child’s head.

 

In this article, you will find the most essential information needed when it is necessary for your children to listen and understand you.

 

 

In order to communicate better with your children and be able to raise them in a harmonious household, you need to look into their heads. 

What happens in a child's brain?

The brain consists of several parts, and each of them has different functions. If a child feels disharmony (which happens many times a day), then the right hemisphere prevails.

 

Childrens Emotions

Emotions come up, and the show begins. But unfortunately, the child doesn’t know how to control himself, and anything we say doesn’t bring any help. So instead, we are making the situation worse.

 

Why?

How to communicate with your child, so they listen to us? - THE BIG SECRET

The goal in communication is for your child to be integrated.

I borrowed this concept from the book The Whole-Brain Child, where the authors write that you need children to be integrated to communicate effectively.

This means that all parts of a child’s brain (left and right side of the brain, reptilian brain, and mammalian brain) must work together as a whole.

 

 

It is easy to see when a child is not integrated. These are precisely the situations where children are overwhelmed by their emotions: they act chaotic and are confused.

 

 

They cannot respond calmly. Instead, they throw tantrums, are aggressive, and have meltdowns because they lost their integration (also called disintegration).

 

 

These are the most challenging situations for parents! Am I right?

What to do when a child has a meltdown?

Meltdown How To Raise A Child

The biggest difference is your approach to the child. When you know that his left rational hemisphere is under the domination of the right emotional hemisphere, no logical arguments or reminders of the agreements between you and the child will help.

 

 

The book’s authors offer specific strategies to help the child move into a state of integration.

 

 

For the purposes of this article, I choose four of them.

Strategy Number One: Connect and Redirect

The authors called the first technique Connect and Redirect.


A child who has a tantrum is in a right-brain emotional flood that is not rational. You need to connect with your child on a right brain-to right brain level. This way, you can reach the child, and they feel heard. They calm down, and you can solve the problem/situation together.


When that happens, and the child starts a scene, they blame you for everything that comes to their mind in that moment.


For younger children who are not yet talking, physical manifestations are added. For example, the child may throw the toy or themself on the ground.


The child is all in a rush of emotion that they can’t handle because they haven’t learned it yet.


If you rule out the possibility that the child is simply too tired or hungry, approach them at the level of emotions.


How? Be empathetic!

Empathy increases understanding

Most of us grew up in an environment where our emotions and feelings were suppressed.

 

 

So speaking empathetically is not natural for us. It is a language we must learn.

 

In the book How To Talk So Kids Will Listen And How To Talk So Kids Will Talk, the authors present four ways to help children deal with their feelings:

To have more strategies on how to be more empathetic and on how to talk so your kids will listen, I have a free PDF guide with simple and effective steps waiting for you here>>

 

 

The way you can approach a child who is controlled by emotions and is confused in their feelings is as follows.

 

 

You can work with them much faster if you connect the right brain to the right brain.

 

 

Here logic doesn’t work. Forget about logical arguments.

1. Approach the child, listen, and help them name what they feel: "Hmm, I see you're angry that your tower has fallen. You enjoyed it very much. "

Not only do you help your child calm down and feel heard, you also teach them to accept their feelings and expand vocabulary.

2. Fantasize about the child's wishes. "If the tower hadn't fallen, you might have built it up to the ceiling."

At this point, you can already see the smile on the child’s face. And if not, they are starting to calm down and plan to build a new tower.

 

 

Great! You have mastered the first strategy!

Boundaries shouldn't slide

Whatever behavior is considered inappropriate in your family should remain off-limits, even in moments of high emotions. 

You don’t need to be permissive or let your boundaries slide because your child isn’t thinking logically at the moment.

 

Take a look at other strategies and how you can react.

Strategy Number Two: Name It To Tame it

To help your kids overcome disappointment, traumatic situations, or scary moments (right brain), one of the most effective ways is to help retell the story of the experience. This allows the child to re-integrate much easier. 

Example

Your kid was running around, tripped, and hurt his knee. He is sitting on the floor, holding his knee and crying.

 

A typical reaction of the adult would often be:

 

“Don’t cry, honey. It’s nothing. Just be more careful next time. “

 

Well, this kind of reaction isn’t helping at all. With this strategy, you could react something like this (this example is from the book The Whole-Brain Child):

 

“That must hurt. I saw you running, and you tripped and scraped your knee. Then what happened? “

My child can't speak yet

Sure they can! You and your child have a unique language between you. It means you as a parent understand what your child needs or what they are trying to say to you, even without using words. 

 

Or you can use baby sign language to speak with your baby using your hands. You will find everything you need for it here>>

Baby Can Speak

It is enough, and you can retell the rest of the incident for the child.

  

 

If your kid doesn’t want to talk about what happened, it is ok too. You need to respect that and wait until they are ready.

Activating the left side of the brain

By retelling the story, you help your child activate the left side of the brain and gain integration again.

 

 

Adding a few details to the story and analyzing it is happening on the left side of the brain.

 

 

Your child will probably retell this over and over again until they don’t need to anymore.

Left And Right Side Of The Brain

Integrating The Upstairs And Downstairs Brain

The first two strategies help integrate the child between the left and the right hemisphere. 

 

 

In the following two strategies, you will learn to connect your child’s brain vertically-the downstairs and upstairs part of the brain.

 

 

We want to teach our kids to make good decisions in high-emotion situations. It is one of the most essential skills.

Thinking Before Acting

Thinking Baby

The lower part of the brain (downstairs) is considered by scientists as being more primitive. It is responsible for basic functions (breathing, blinking), for innate reactions (fight or flight), and for strong emotions (anger, fear). 

 

 

The upstairs brain is entirely different. It is responsible (as the book says) for:

When the upstairs brain works well, your child can regulate emotions, think before acting, consider how others feel, and consider consequences.

Sounds like a perfect child, right?

Children are born with well-developed downstairs brains. However, the upstairs brain isn’t fully mature until a person reaches their mid-twenties.

Important information for parents

This is crucial for parents to understand. All the abilities listed above, such as regulating emotion, thinking before acting, and so on, are dependent on the part of their brain that hasn’t fully developed yet.


Because of this, kids are often “trapped downstairs” without the possibility to use the upstairs brain. So they make poor decisions.

Strategy Number Three: Engage, Don't Enrage

This strategy is all about asking ourselves which part of the brain we appeal to, before interacting with our children.


Our goal is to activate the upstairs brain. 


This approach is very similar to the first strategy. But instead of integrating the right and the left side of the brain, we are trying to engage the upstairs brain.


All these strategies work perfectly together with our mini-course How To Talk To Kids. Here you learn what exact techniques you can use to communicate with your child appropriately without repeating yourself and without unnecessary scenes. 


You approach the child and help them think through the situation, consider appropriate behaviors and consequences. Help them think about what another person might feel.

Strategy Number Four: Use It Or Lose It

The last strategy we are going to talk about today is very practical. When you allow your child to use the upstairs brain as much as possible, it will develop, become stronger, and perform better. 

 

Here are a few ways to do it:

Decision making

Let your child make as many decisions as possible. It is tempting to make all the decisions for our kids since it is easier and much quicker.


But when we let them make their own decisions, it requires so-called executive functioning (watch the video below for more on this topic), which occurs when the upstairs brain weighs different options.


Thinking about possible outcomes and competing alternatives gives this part of the brain practice.


For young kids, it could be something as simple as: “Do you want to wear the blue T-shirt or the green one? “.

Emotions And Body Control

Help your child express their feelings by stomping their feet or punching a pillow. You can teach them how to work with their breath. 


Even small children can stop and think before hurting somebody with words or fists.


The more they practice this, the stronger and more capable their upstairs brain will become.

Empathy

By asking simple questions now and then, you will encourage the consideration of another’s feelings, and you are building your child’s ability to feel empathy. 


“Why do you think that baby is crying? “could be one question, or “How do you think this girl is feeling right now? “.


You simply draw your child’s attention to other people’s feelings throughout the day.


The more practice your child has, the more capable they will be of having compassion.

Conclusion

The best way to start communicating effectively with your child is to understand how their brain works.

 

This way, you know exactly how to approach your child in difficult situations, what to do when your child acts irrationally and what to say when they throw a tantrum. 

 

All the communication methods and great parenting strategies simply won’t work until you know when and how to use them.

 

For that, you don’t have to be a scientist or study psychology. The authors of the book The Whole-Brain Child, Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., covered this topic elegantly.

 

After reading this article, you know the essential basics about your child’s brain, and you can try them out right away.

 

What strategy works at your home? I would love to know. Please leave me a comment.

6 Responses

  1. Great information! I work with kids a lot, but don’t have any of my own yet. I think a lot of adults (not just parents) could benefit from reading through this!

  2. Wow this was packed with great information. Although I don’t have any kids myself, I am an Aunt so it’s good to learn these tactics. Never realized how much thought goes into decision making with kids and raising them well. I like the idea of giving them the decisions to choices so they feel more empowered!

  3. I’m really loving this article. I wish more people would read it! As a psychotherapist to be there’s so much we can do to raise children to be healthier mentally. It’s something that was seriously missing in past generations.

    1. Thank you Anna,
      I agree with you! I wish for all the parents to read this. There would be much more understanding in their relationships with children. And, as you say, it is something that was missing in past generations. I am glad we are where we are.

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