๐Ÿ“• Week 1 of the Whole Brained Child Beyond the Book

Week 1 Questions: Introduction – Survive and Thrive

1. How often do you find you find yourself just trying to survive moments in parenting? “Estimated: 3-5 times a day.”

2. What are your โ€œgo toโ€œ survival techniques? “For non-stop screaming the room AKA prison (happens once every other week or so) until we both calm down enough to talk, if I feel like hitting my daughter her room (happens once a month or so when she hurts her tiny baby brother) until I calm down, for violations of known rules her room or prior punishment such as take away item for the day onto fridge if she hit someone with it – then we talk on her bed about the family value that was violated by the behavior, what I want to see and ask if she understands, yelling is just a failure that happens when I am overwhelmed once every other week or so, threatening happens in public where I want to let her stay somewhere fun like school or the library, but she is breaking rules such as running far away in the parking lot after other kids, running in hallways where it is not allowed ext. Consequences are not called consequences, we refer to them as “if,” “then” and choices, (ICC: inform, consequence, choice) if you do not share the doll with the little girl who is crying, then I will not get you shave ice after school. I do a lot of positive rewards with affection, words of affirmation and food treats, but I don’t consider that to be “bribes”, I consider it positive incentives and I think it’s been a good thing for us. Ex we practice languages in the morning, she tries to say new words and gets m&m mini’s, I think it’s the attention she likes the best, but I do give candy. She gets paid for helping with laundry and helping protect her brother, $4/week, I don’t think of that as a bribe, living in a country where workers get paid, I think it’s modeling the world (imperfect although it is) we live in.”

3. On page viii it asks what you really want for your children? What qualities do you hope they develop and carry into their adult lives? “Emotional control, resilience, empathy, eq, leadership, boundaries, integrity, ethics.”

How much time do you spend intentionally developing these qualities?
“Emotional control 1-5 hours/week, resilience 10 min-3 hours/day, empathy 3 hours/week, eq 1 hour/week, leadership 10 min-2 hours/week, boundaries 3 hours/week, integrity 7 hours/week, ethics 4 hours/week.”

4. What skills and abilities do you think will be easy to develop in these survive and thrive moments? Which will take more effort? Independence? Problem solving? Compassion? Empathy? Anything else? “None are easy, it was extremely hard to do this in real life.”

๐Ÿ“• My Experience with Whole-Brained Parenting

Overall I enjoyed the book Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, I read it when my first child was a baby and found it somewhat unsuited for her tempermant.

I just started Kelly Meier’s “Beyond the Book” book club to try and apply the book towards my real family life, even though I failed in the past I’m excited to try again. Sometimes failure is not the opposite of success, but part of the path of success (and sometimes it’s not).

One thing about the book is it says that the child’s brain will mirror the parents, that doesn’t seem real to me. I have been super calm, while my child was screaming and kicking… my calmness just bothered my daugher more and more. It feels like I’m not able to validate her emotions and she isn’t able to down regulate. It’s not that I don’t want to help her, but I never found a way so far. I believe in her ability to self regulate and I think it’s fine for parents to co regulate also, but somewhere between her and I as individuals is some kind of problem doing so. I am able to face my emotions, I am able to calm my actions, yet I am helpless to help my daughter who is way more intense than I am. She reminds me a lot of her father, he doesn’t let me co regulate him, if he is very sad or mad he leaves the house and comes back. That’s the way he was before I met him, that’s his choice, but it seems to me that my daughter and him are very naturally different than average.

It’s my hope that I can help my daughter learn to calm down enough to handle her emotions well, not ignore them, not repress them, but also not be a slave to them.

The book says “everything that happens to us matters to how the brain develops,” that’s stress provoking for me, it made me want to control “everything that happens to my daughter’s brain” ie “everything.” That’s not a very realistic expectation, with one, or especially two kids. It also makes me frustrated when, not everything I try seems to have any effect on my child. From my experiences, I don’t believe that it is true. I believe that there are certain really important events, like “core memories” from Inside Out,” that for subtle reasons, are much more important than other events. I have come to find that a lot of events are outside of my control as a parent, and I have to accept and surrender to those events emotionally to face reality as it comes.

I also have doubts that squabbles are caused by lack of brain integration, I think they are part of human nature. I don’t know any adults who don’t squabble… I think heart to heart comunication breaks down and squabbles occur at all ages.

I have more doubts that brain integration can live up to it’s promise of helping people to thrive “emotionally, intellectually and socially,” maybe it does help “improved decision making, better control of body and emotions, fuller self understanding, stronger relationships and success in school,” but I don’t believe all the introductory claims are true. I personally know the “achademically best” student in my sisters school (her best friend), who struggled with relationships. I know many people who shine is one area of life, without brain integration. I think brain integration is worthwhile, but I think the claims of what it improves are inflatted or wrong. I think brain integration probably does improve day to day well being. I think success in school is somewhat determined by fate, some people can’t even afford to go seriously… I think relationship success relies on people outside of your control, not on your brain integration… I think intellect is heavily genetic or determined by nutrition or early education outside of brain integration. But even voicing my doubts, I believe brain integration has something beautiful and worth chasing at the end of its journey.

I think brain integration probably helps ward off depression, I was in the same place intellectually and socially, before and after working on brain integration, but I did end at a slightly elevated emotional place. What I can say about my daughter, is that despite getting more “enrichment” than her peers she is intellectually average, socially superior and emotionally poorer. I’m not sure if that is due to genetics vs enviornment, but I know she isn’t superior across the board, to her friends who’s parents don’t read parenting books or visit museums, learn sign language ext., instead she has peaks and valleys that I think are semi-perminant markers of her unique mind, heart and soul.

More to come…