I promptly purchased The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind after I had literally melted down in tears at the supermarket checkout when my son was going through a difficult (crazy) stage and took a huge bite out of my neck while I was trying to pay for groceries. It was an incredibly embarrassing (I have an ugly cry face) lightbulb moment as a parent, because the realisation dawned on me that I needed to understand the inner workings of my child’s mind to ensure we can develop a strong relationship to stand the test of time.
Written by neuroscientists, I feared the book may be full of nerdy clinical terms but it turned out to be an easy, relatable, engaging and informative read written by parents who face the same challenges as you and I. They offer 12 practical strategies for dealing with behavioural issues by clearly explaining how your child’s brain is wired and exactly what is going on in their mind to cause them to act out. The aim is equip parents and caregivers with the tools required to turn potential moments of madness into an opportunity for emotional growth for the child.
So far I have found the first strategy listed in the book, Connect and Re-Direct to be one of the most effective with my two year old. Basically, when your child is having a meltdown, they recommend you first try connect with their feelings instead of turning into a dictator and going to war with them. The authors believe that when children feel understood and supported, they can recover and regain control of their emotions quicker and you can ultimately reason with them easier. Since actively practicing this method, I’ve certainly noticed that when I take an extra five or so minutes to connect with my son and see the world from his perspective, in many cases it has prevented a blow up that would take ten times as long. Of course it doesn’t always work, some issues only a big glass of wine has the power to solve.
Another sage piece of advice is strategy number five, “Move It or Lose It: Body Over Mind Method to Restore Balance”. Basically, when you are deep in a challenging situation with your child, the authors recommend that both the adult and child get active in order to release endorphins and diffuse the situation. My son is wildly energetic and this always works a treat, even though I’m often exhausted, it’s still easier to jump on the trampoline with him than it is to fight with him.
The only mild criticism I have is that I felt in places that the book was geared more toward slightly older children, yet I still took some valuable wisdom from it and will keep it on the bookshelf to dust off in coming years.