Shawn, Ryan, and Lori discuss Chapter 5 of The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson.  This is one of several books that CK Family Services recommends that all parents read, and it holds a special place with our show hosts.  We invite you to join us and read through the book alongside us this Summer.  Whether you are new to the book or have already read it through, we are confident that you’ll be glad you did.  If you need a copy of the book, please consider using the link above to purchase a copy via smile.Amazon.com.  Be sure to choose CK Family Services as your charity and Amazon will make a donation to support the work of our staff and volunteers each time you make a purchase.  Doing so will help support the show.

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Chapter 5 of The Whole-Brain Child talks about our feelings – what they are and how can we distinguish between how we’re feeling as compared to who we really are. This chapter, like most of the book, can be applied not only to children but also to adults. Successful people are always incredibly self-aware, so understanding ourselves and integrating our feelings and our minds is crucial for transferring that same behavior to our children – we can’t expect them to behave in a certain way if we don’t do the same. That’s why it’s important to learn how to distinguish between feeling like a failure and actually thinking you’re a failure. When we think we’re a failure this becomes our reality, so we stop trying harder, and this completely changes who we are. So, the idea behind Strategy 8 (Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll: Teaching That Feelings Come and Go) is to understand that we all have feelings but there is a difference between what we feel and what the reality is like. No matter how terrible we might feel at the moment, these feelings will eventually pass.

Then, we go on to talk about the ways to deal with anxiety in children. It’s very common for parents to deny and dismiss children when they express their fears or anxieties. A great example of this is when children are afraid at night – parents usually just say “there’s nothing to be afraid of, go to sleep, you’re safe.” We’re almost all guilty of dismissing our children when we feel that they’re being “childish”, but the relationship we form with them by doing so is rarely the relationship we want to have with them. When they’re afraid, children seek out those who are supposed to protect them and care for them, so when we deny their feelings and dismiss them, we don’t help them overcome their issues. Even worse, when they grow up and enter adolescence, their lives get more complicated, and although we, then, desperately want to know what’s happening with them, we’ll see that we have already taught our children not to come to us with their problems.

In fact, most of us have been raised with the phrase “If you don’t stop crying I’ll give you something to cry about,” but this and other such phrases have now been labeled as emotional abuse of children – parents want the child to stop bothering them and suppress his/her feelings, but the child is injured. So, when we say that sentence, what we really mean is “if you don’t deny your emotions, I will hurt you.” So, ultimately, if we want our children to be compassionate and empathetic, we need to be mindful in order to know how to connect with them and facilitate them in that process.

Strategy 9 (SIFT: Paying Attention to What’s Going On Inside) is all about helping our children to soft through the variety of sensations, images, feelings and thoughts that are affecting their state of being.  What we need to do is to teach children what feelings they are experiencing. It’s extremely useful to teach them how to name their feelings and be able to tell when they’re feeling angry, sad, or even when they’re experiencing mixed feelings. In this way, we give them the vocabulary they need to actually process and understand their feelings. In addition, it’s important to understand that we (and our children) are not only made of feelings but also of thoughts, sensations, and images. So, knowing all this can help us in times when we feel overwhelmed or when we freeze, because it can guide us in understanding and evaluating what we’re feeling at the moment. This is closely related to the idea of replacing scary images related to certain experiences in the minds of children with positive images.

This brings us to the last strategy, Strategy 10 Exercise Mindsight:  Getting Back to the Hub, which refers to talking children through their feelings rather than letting their feelings dominate. We might sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about thoughts and feelings with our children in such a detail, but that’s likely the case between we do not understand ourselves and our minds very well yet, so, then, we need to work not only on the child but also on ourselves.

Our next episode will focus on the strategies in chapter 6 of The Whole-Brain Child and will also be the last episode in our series discussing the book.  Thank you for downloading and joining with us in this study/discussion.  If you enjoy the content, please remember to help us grow-the-show by sharing a link to our podcast or its episodes with your friends and family.  Also, remember to subscribe and give us a positive review.  Doing so helps the podcast directories better understand who else might be interested in our discussions.

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God bless!

Shawn Wilson

Chief Business Development Officer at CK Family Services
Shawn has spent more than 23 years serving children and families.He initially worked with adjudicated youth, focusing on serious offenders and their reintegration following incarceration. Shawn began serving children in Texas Foster Care in 2000 as a Case Manager and now serves as a key member of CK Family Services leadership team.
Shawn Wilson