Parenting counseling, what does that mean? I am a parent, a late life parent, which has its own built in wisdom and deficiencies when the kids are almost 11 and just turned 5.
I find myself routinely looking back to my own childhood and remembering behaviors that I demonstrated, and my parents response to those behaviors, to evaluate how strong my response should be to the behaviors of my kids, when I am alarmed about something they say or do, and that, according to Marcy Axness, Ph.D., is what parenting counseling is about, us making sense of our childhood experience so that we can guide our children.
However we know today that attachment plays a huge part in the brain development of our children, and a secure attachment can be attended to, guided, enhanced so that our children enjoy secure relationships as adults.
So I want to study up on what makes attachment happen in relationship with children.
My reading of Allen Schore's work says that attachment is visual and is communicated when the children are young through the eyes and voice and touch, when I smile they smile and vice versa, and that their may be as many as 20 contacts like that per minute when an infant needs them.
The infant will also signal when they are over stimulated by breaking off eye contact.
So how do we sustain healthy attachment through the inevitable behavioral issues which will occur with our kids as they grow up, how do I deliver consequences for deliberate transgressions from an emotional place that teaches but does not abuse.
Of course, it takes thousands of those small, quick, loving contacts to ensure a secure attachment, but only one perception of serious threat to change a child's brain forever, so how do I parent from a place of emotional regulation?
Perhaps the most important thing that I have learned about attachment is the role of the father in regulating aggression.
Dad's, in their play with children, are supposed to help them understand the limits of arousal, how to go up and down the arousal ladder so that no one gets hurt, especially with the boys who have a greater aggressive endowment, and everyone has fun, so the key for me in terms of parenting is to learn how to regulate my own arousal, so I am communicating to my children that their consequences are serious but they are not perceiving that they are going to die soon.
It is their perception that changes their brain.
I have used many tools to practice appropriate internal self-regulation. The cheapest and quickest is deep breathing, a breath in for three counts, hold for three, and then exhale for a count of three, repeated three times.
Perhaps I will need to do more repetitions to calm down.
However my culture has taught me to breathe shallowly in my chest which keeps me dripping a little adrenalin into the system, and sometimes I am caught unprepared by the intensity of my response to a callous kiddie crime, a child kicking a kitten, or deliberately refusing to follow the rules of the household, and at that point I use another tool, HeartMath, which cues a calmer physiology and allows me to access my heart's affiliative and cooperative intelligence.
Parenting Counseling With HeartMath
HeartMath, which I have used personally and professionally for about 8 years, teaches me how to cue a coherent heart beat on demand, which makes it an extraordinary tool to use in the moment of high arousal to change my physiology back to a physiology of appreciation and cooperativenss so I deliver a consequence which teaches and does not damage attachment.
And that process does take practice, and you do not have to be perfect.
If you parent from a place of threat, intimidation, or contempt, you can repair that with your child at a moment when you both are calmer.
There are a huge number of benefits to learning to regulate your arousal, using HeartMath which is very definitely a mindfulness tool, including your neuroplasticity and neurogenesis.
But before I explain what those are, here is a link to HeartMath.
Neurogenesis is the growth of new brain cells on a daily basis which happens when I take care of my brain fitness.
I am 61 and need new brain cells to track my children's behavior and whereabouts.
You know what kills new brain cells? Stress hormones. This is where it really pays to know HeartMath because when I am good at HeartMath I can keep the inside of my body bathed in the hormone DHEA, instead of adrenaline and cortisol. DHEA is very helpful in keeping those new neurons headed out to the brain structures where they are needed.
If you are curious about this brain fitness phenomenom, please read Brainfit for Life where you will get a clear picture of the pillars of brain fitness, physical exercise, nutrition, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experiences.
Neuroplasticity is what neurons do when they are learning about new things, they connect with other neurons, and if those circuits are used regularly, your brain will keep the circuit which is insurance against alzheimers.
Both neurogenesis and neuroplasticity are enhanced by doing stress management the HeartMath way.
And by the way, the novel learning experience mentioned above could involve using a computerized brain fitness program, and the Mind Sparke Folks have created one for the kids.
So parenting counseling is this constant effort to balance myriad competing interests (including the relationship of the kids to their mother) so that the kids see and learn important life skills that will be important down the road, and parents learn something about unconditional love and how to balance that with setting consequences for child malfeasance.
The things I can control in that process are my thinking, my feelings, and my behavior.
Parenting is best done from a HeartMath physiology, which has the added benefit of enhancing my neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
Here are two more computerized brain fitness programs to use after you have opened your higher perceptual centers using your HeartMath.
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