Parenting Matters Class: Building the foundation of your child’s emotional health

This Parenting Matters class is an introductory look at thinking about our struggles with our children from a human development perspective. Meaning, if we can better understand the very natural and very predictable developmental issues that cause or exacerbate many of our frustrations when parenting, we can then use that information to find more productive and helpful ways to respond to these situations.

The older, fear and shame based methods that many of our parents relied on when dealing with these issues are no longer as effective (for multiple reasons), and we also know more about the potential drawbacks in childhood brain development of such methods even when they are effective in getting behavior change. There are no gimmicks or tricks to take the place of said “good ol’ day” methods. Fear and shame, whether explicit or more subtle, were one-size-fits-all approaches, and without them (whether eschewing them by choice due to recognizing the associated drawbacks for children or because they are simply no longer effective enough), parents are left to make it up as they go along, often relying on reasoning with and explaining to our children–repeatedly. After all, if we aren’t supposed to use fear or shame, and if we are supposed to respect them as people, isn’t explaining things to them and reasoning with them the obvious alternative? And shouldn’t that work? It seems so reasonable.

If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, repeated explaining and reasoning often does not work, and it often makes things worse by getting us more frustrated and emotional–and our kids more determined to stick to their guns. The only effective option we are left with as parents is the much more difficult approach of understanding our children and ourselves as people and choosing ways to interact with and teach them that allow for the most potential learning. The enormous upside of this approach is that it also supports more resilient, self-assured, emotionally healthy brain development.

This class begins to outline the issues at play when looking at parenting and discipline from a developmental perspective, starting by examining the brain chemistry behind those times when we lose our patience and fall into old and ineffective habits in responding to our children. It also includes a discussion of the primary emotional need that often drives our children to risk it all in order to not give in to us. The class will ┬áthen build from there depending on time and the group’s interests.