By Natalie Moutafis
I don’t get to read as much these days. Before having the Tiny Humans, I would often devour a novel each week.
The books that I do find myself reading though are parenting related. I’m fascinated by what’s going on developmentally in my children. I’m living it daily, but I also have this desire to know ‘why’ and to find ways I can help positively build on their learning.
Recently I’ve been reading The Whole Brain Child by Daniel J Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. This book is aimed at parents of slightly older children than mine, but it’s giving me valuable insights (and tools) on how to prepare for what’s next.
It helps me understand how best to deal with a meltdown over something like not wanting to wear new shoes (that, by the way, are the same as the last pair, just the next size up). Or how I can use the art of storytelling (referred to in the book as ‘name it to tame it’) to help the Tiny Toddler get over his new fear of dogs after he had a little incident a few months back.
Asking him to tell the story of what happened (in his own words), and helping him fill in the gaps, means he can own his emotion (in the case of dogs, fear) and we can work together on ways he can be not ‘scared’ around dogs anymore.
By repeatedly telling his ‘story’ to his brain, he is rewiring his brain and he can make sense of what happened and feel better about it. This tool has also been useful in situations where he’s fallen and scraped his knee, or when he doesn’t want me to leave him at childcare. This is helping form new neural connections, and research shows that the first few years of a child’s life, their brain is making over 1 million new neural connections every second.
I’m also making him feel heard, because I’m not dismissing his feelings by telling him ‘don’t be silly, it doesn’t hurt’ etc. This helps him feel connection and comfort, all of which are important to his development and are part of forming strong healthy relationships.
This book, and others, give me techniques that I’m grateful to be able to teach the kids how to use. By doing so, I’m helping them to learn how to self-regulate and be more in control of their emotions.
I’m also, hopefully, helping to raise kind and empathetic children. I know they won’t always get it right, because I don’t always get it right either, we are, after all, only human. But by aiming to do these things as part of my everyday parenting, they will eventually become routine and (hopefully) form part of their, and my, core capabilities.
There’s no ‘how-to guide’ to parenting, but books and resources that help explain what’s happening with my Tiny Humans is certainly a step in the right direction for this Mum still learning to parent with her training wheels on.
Natalie Moutafis is an ISV staff member, mother of two young children, and author of the Tiny Humans blog.
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