On multiple parenting suggested reading lists I kept seeing The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson. I got a chance to read it and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was kind of a cross between How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Einstein Never Used Flashcards in terms of its focus on child brain development, psychology, and working through problems through conversation.
I liked the distinctions the book drew between upstairs and downstairs brains and left and right brains and how young children have a lot of trouble integrating these. I also liked the suggested activities/conversations to be had with kids along with specific scripts.
Moments of trying to just survive parenting are opportunities to teach and learn
1 parenting with brain in mind
Distracting from big scary emotions leaves in loss
Better to keep repeating discussion of impactful experience and let child process
Integration of all parts of brain
Speak to child about his feelings
River of well being between bank of chaos and bank of rigidity
2 two brains better than one: integrating left and right
1 Connect and redirect.
Don't defend yourself.
Pull close and rub back
Sometimes it's just really hard huh
1 use right brain to connect, touch, acknowledge feelings
2 redirect to left brain: explain and find solution. Better to discuss later when calm.
When child upset, logic won't work
Attunement: helping someone feel felt/heard
2 Name it to tame it. Tell stories to calm emotions.
Retell story of traumatic story
Talking through moment with child together
Name emotions. Ask questions to facilitate.
Draw picture of event or write down story
Ask child to tell story of experience to someone else: forces left brain to make order of experience and emotion in right brain. Same reason why journaling works.
Make homemade book of bad experience
Whole brain kids story to read for 5-9 year olds
3 building staircase of brain: connecting upstairs and downstairs brain
Previous chapter was left and right
This one is up and down
Downstairs is old reptilian instinctual
Upstairs is new and logical and reasoning
Upstairs not yet finished developing so need realistic expectations
Amygdala is baby gate that floods emotion and blocks connection to upstairs brain. Sometimes physically can't use upstairs brain.
Upstairs tantrum: firm boundaries. Don't negotiate with terrorist. I understand u want x but y and if u don't z then n. Explain consequences.
Downstairs tantrum: lower parts of brain hijack brain and body. More nurturing and comforting. Redirect. Loving touch. Hold close and talk down and remove from scene. Calm amygdala. Later talk about inappropriate behavior when calm.
Engage don't enrage: appeal to upstairs brain
You look like you're angry
Use it or lose it for upstairs brain
Practice making sound decisions themselves. Make own choice. Avoid solving or rescuing.
Controlling emotions and body.
Take deep breath
Stop and think before hurting others
Ask questions. Why do u think u made that choice? Why were you yelling?
Give journal and encourage daily writing or drawing
Ask questions about surroundings to discuss this. Why do you think that Baby is crying? That woman wasn't nice, what do you think must be going on for her to make her do that?
Practice thinking of others
Raise moral and ethical questions for discussion. Hypothetical situations.
Move it or lose it
Physical movement affects brain chemistry
First do jumping jack before unwanted activity
Jump up and down when discouraged
I know ur mad about x. It doesn't seem fair. Let's go ride our bikes and talk about it.
4 kill the butterflies: dealing with difficult memories
Memory is just association. Not filing cabinet.
Triggered memories create expectations for future
Memories retrieved are altered
Integrating implicit and explicit memories
Remote of the mind: internal DVD player to replay memories. Child can say pause and fast forward to skip painful scenes. Then come back to those and go through slowly and talk through each scary element. Repeat over following days.
Remember to remember
Ask kids to practice telling and retelling stories
Discuss memories of important family experiences they had
Ask questions to prompt recollection. Did u go to bobs house today? What happened when u got there?
Play guessing game. Ask child to tell you two things that happened and one that didn't and u guess which.
Daily recap at end of day of high low and act of kindness
Look at photo albums together and describe
Make memory book together after big experiences
Unexamined disintegrated memories cause trouble for adults too. Need to process and discuss implicit memories.
What's going on? Is this reminding me of something?
5 United States of me: integrating many parts of self
Mindsight and wheel of awareness
Understanding own mind and that of another
Mind as bicycle wheel with rim anything we can be aware of. Hub as executive focus that can choose what to pay attention to
Kids can get stuck focusing on certain rim points
Confuse How they feel in one moment vs how they are always
Choice of what you pay attention to
Let clouds of emotion roll by
Temporary states not traits
Game wher u Ask kids about each of these as they experience them
Exercise getting back to the hub
Practice moving attention to sounds and physical stuff and then extend to mental ones
Think of breath going in and out
6 me we connection: integrating self and others
Considering minds of others
Insight plus empathy equals mindsight
Reactivity vs receptivity
When in reactive state, physical stuff like hugs better
Increase family fun factor and remember to enjoy each other. Spontaneous games. Improv games. Sidewalk chalk drawing together. Project for grandparent.
Connection through conflict
Practice seeing from others eyes
Connect first then redirect
Why do u think he might have done x
Listen to what's not being said
Make observations verbally about others body language and feelings
Repair after conflict
Need to take steps to right what's wrong
Draw a picture or write a letter
If it were u what would u what in this case
Look at other to see their emotions and reaction
Integrate your life narrative. Reflect on your parents.
Use everyday moments to teach
Whole brain ages and stages chart
References/others from author
Parenting from inside out
One of the books recommended by Janet Lansbury and some of the other RIE-inspired authors was 1, 2, 3 The Toddler Years by Irene Van der Zande. I enjoyed the book and its many pictures of safe play environments and how this can be implemented in home or daycare settings. The book gave a pretty good overview of the RIE approach as it applies to different parts of the early years.
Part one: respect for toddlers
Each child special individual with important thoughts feelings and needs
Opportunity to grow and learn at own pace
Freedom to create and master own challenges
1 let me choose
Happier when have some control over lives
I need to change your diaper. Do you want to bring your picture with you or leave it here. Do you want to walk or be carried
Do you want to do it now or in a few min. Drink x or y. Use one color cup or another. Come here or have me get you.
Close ended questions with choices we can live with
Don't offer choice by mistake by being polite. Do you want to take your nap now? Don't add ok? To end
It's time to take your nap now. Do you want to bring your book or leave it here.
Give child chance to think after offering choice
If can't decide: I'll help you choose so we can leave. Here's your jacket.
2 my feelings should be free
Ok to have big feelings and accept them
I know you don't want x but I'm still going to x because y
Give names to feelings. You did x. You look y.
Don't label any as good or bad
You didn't like x. It made you mad. Do you want to sit in my lap? Your still upset. I'm here to help you if you need me.
3 stop me when enough is enough
Firm calm limit tone
I want you to be gentle
I don't like it when you run away
I have to put this book away until we fix it. Here are some old papers you can tear up.
You look mad. I won't let you hit others. You can hit those balls with a soft bat.
4 I can understand more than you think
Talk to them about what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen
5 let me work it out for myself
Give just enough help so child can succeed
Talk through steps of putting on clothes and have them participate
6 I need special time with you
Play game of washing dishes and talking together
Little moments daily, not big events periodically
They live in here and now
7 plan ahead
8 I'm not sleepy
9 saying goodbye is sad
Ok to feel sad
Be firm when leaving
Will share when ready
Model sharing and mention when u do it
Appreciate when they share and tell them the consequences
11 fighting part of life too
Let them work out for selves
Describe what's happening and show where other toys are
Step in and put arms around kid who is physically hurting other
Stop before happens when kid mad
Give things that are ok to bite
Act calm not upset
Teach them to yell stop instead of biting
Reflect back what u see happening
Help him have chance of contributing to solution by offering choices
Not a time to hold child
You can lie on the pillows and kick but I won't let you kick me
When you're done screaming, we’ll get some dry pants and you can play
Tantrum in public: don't give in. Just move out to private space like car or another room until it calms.
To avoid, tell them what to expect.
14 wait until I'm ready for toilet learning
Need to be able to control body and understand process with mind
On their own time just like walking
Readiness signs: dry diapers for longer periods, notifying us they pooped or peed in diaper, showing interest in sitting on toilet or wanting to wear underwear, disliking wet or soiled diapers
Don't do it when other stresses or changes at home
Teach words about body parts and functions
Read books about using toilet
Practice sitting on potty
Talk about time when won't need diapers and can wear underwear like big kids
Stay relaxed. Not too excited when child succeeds.
Training pants only after child dry in diapers for long periods and uses toilet regularly
Accidents are time for calm cleaning up not scolding
Don't force them to use stranger toilets if only want at home
Find other places to use in emergency besides bathroom when just learning
Takes longer to gain control at night than day
15 only very small difference between girls and boys
What child can do or have not dependent on if boy or girl
Talk to boys about their caring behavior
All kids wear sturdy clothes not frilly dresses
Talk to girls about what do well not just how look
Talk to boy about how look not just what does
Let little girls make big noises
Tell stories of men cleaning and women fixing
16 I like to eat my way
Offer very small servings
Offer choices before cooking but once decided can't go back
Let them make own food like spread own peanut butter
Say what we do want from them instead of what don't want
I don't like it when you
When you yell I can't understand
I want you to x
When more interested in playing then meal is done
Horseshoe table, cloth wipes, meals outside when possible
Start with a song
Only kids sitting at table can eat but can leave anytime
Can you pick a chair and bring it
Who wants to help me pull the peel off
Can you wipe face yourself or do you want me to do it for you
17 new siblings
Private times with each parent
18 out in public
Prepare special things for them and set up environment they can do well in
Part 2 successful parenting
Just best you can
19 learn from others
20 trust self
21 take care of yourself
Afternoon quiet hour each day. Kids in beds with books or toys. Parents have time to selves.
Go out alone to do something fun at least weekly
Special toys and projects just for time when ur home and getting evening ready so kids play independently
22 keep child safe
Model right behavior
Don't leave alone in public or in car or in bath
Teach simple phrases like stop, I don't like that, move away
Model greeting others and let child decide when and how to do it at his own pace
Kids don't have to hug or kiss anyone or sit on anyone's lap unless they want to
Touch or games should be safe, choice of each person, allowed by grown ups in charge, and never secret
No secrets from mom and dad
Always hold hand in street
Teach safety by using puppets and toys to act out in fun way
23 help child face grief and loss
Acting younger helps them feel safe
Imagine through their eyes and put feelings and thoughts into the open and explain explicitly
Read together Books about feelings of loss
24 ask for help when u need it
Ok to be mad at kids but not scare or hurt them
Ask someone to take them when feelings too strong
Call for help
Parent support hotlines
25 stop feeling guilty
We are only part of children's lives. They have freedom of own thoughts and actions.
26 enjoy your child
Fun can get spoiled by “have to”s
Part 3 finding and keeping quality childcare
Books and resources
Year in Review: 2016
This post is very late too, but better late than never.
2016 was an insanely busy and sleep-depriving year. The birth of my son is probably the biggest change in my life, followed only very closely by marriage. It's insane how it changes everything, and I felt totally unprepared. I've learned a lot about how we grow up to be the people we are, and I've read way too many books about baby sleep.
1. The Truth: Nice follow-up to The Game, and it's a fun read that somewhat mirrors the developments/progress in my own life.
2. Do the Work: Another nice follow-up to The War of Art, a book I loved. Really kicks your butt into gear to execute.
3. Peak: Heard about this on the Freakonomics podcast and enjoyed its exploration of deliberate practice. Quite applicable to magic and other fields.
4. Elevating Child Care: Really nice coverage of the RIE approach with practical tips and dialogue.
5. No Bad Kids: Toddler-specific applications of RIE principles.
6. Dear Parent: Concise and to-the-point explanation of all aspects of a baby's life by the founder of RIE itself, Magda Gerber.
7. Bringing Up Bebe: Nice, fun story I identified a lot with. Plus I reminisced about and enjoyed the descriptions of Paris.
8. Baby-Led Weaning: Foundational text on the solids introduction approach that made the most sense to me and worked best for us.
9. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen: Really helpful read, probably more for down the line in a few years, but still really nice frameworks and ideas and sample dialogues in here.
10. Einstein Never Used Flashcards: Great overview of the published scientific papers around baby brain development and what kinds of games, toys, and activities make the most sense. Actually backs up a lot of elements of the RIE method.
11. One Hundred Years of Solitude: This book kept coming up on Tim Ferriss's podcast, and it certainly was an interesting and complex read. I kind of got bogged down by the many characters and details after a while but enjoyed the way it was written and the entire world created by the author.
12. A Moveable Feast: Anything about Paris automatically earns brownie points.
13. In Order to Amaze: Insanely devious and well-constructed routines and principles in here.
14. Mnemonica: The encyclopedia on this very powerful piece of card magic and a lot of fun to read.
15. The Magic of Ascanio: Foundational text on magic theory and construction, inspiring so many ideas that many rely and build on today.
Things that were good
Areas for improvement