Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Tonight I attended a lecture by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and author of "brain rules - 12 Principles for Surviving & Thriving at Work, Home & School". I have no idea what his fancy title means but it was a fascinating and illuminating evening. He discussed the effects and advantages of what he calls "emotion coaching parenting". He encourages parents to set consistent rules set in stone that are repeated consistently. He also encourages parents to remain fearless in the face of their child's heightened emotional states. In other words, when your kid is have a 9.9 hissy fit, don't react. Stay calm and in charge. Easier said than done, I'm sure. I'm just paraphrasing a scientific expert with fancy degrees and a dozen years of research to back up his statements.
Another effective parenting method is to consistently be aware of your kid's emotions and help them verbalize those emotions. Are they sad, disappointed or angry? Kids understand rewards and punishments. Use them consistently and effectively.
A parent's first response or action to an upset child should be empathy. Kids can learn that their actions can help others. Has your child ever tried to comfort you when you've been injured or upset? They learn by seeing us show empathy to others.
With older kids (the dreaded teenage years), he recommends that you do not try to 'fix' the problem. Verbalize the emotions you see them displaying and try to determine where they are coming from. Did they have a fight with a friend? Fail a test? Not get invited to a dance?
I highly recommend his book. He calls himself an "angry scientist" but I found him grounded, entertaining and informative. Even as an "expert", he doesn't claim any fail-proof methods. Parenting is an instinctive, constantly changing roller coaster. It's the best and hardest job in the world.