Here’s how what happens inside you creates your child’s behavior. You experience just some, most, or perhaps all of the possibilities I describe below.
You look at your child struggling with some aspect of his homework and a thought flashes through your mind – perhaps it is something like…
– This ADHD (substitute any other label in here) is such a challenge!
– I wish he found it easier to learn.
– If only he didn’t have to struggle this way.
– It hurts me to see him like this.
– How will he cope in life?
You sense that a meltdown is about to happen and you think and feel…
– This ODD (substitute any other label in here) is such a challenge!
– You feel helpless to stop it.
– You think to yourself, Oh NO! Please not now.
– You wonder how long this one will last.
– You feel exhausted and overwhelmed.
While these thoughts and feelings race through you, your physiology is changing. There is a stress alert taking place in your body and brain – like the siren of an ambulance. Your heart starts to beat faster; you tense up; your chest is tight; your head is buzzing and your nervous system is hyper-alert. Everything is out of whack. Your body is pumping adrenaline and cortisol and you will experience fight, flight or freeze. In other words, you will get angry, or withdraw or you will just freeze up. At this point your body is in distress and your brain can no longer think clearly or creatively. Everything inside you is ‘screaming’ and your child knows this! In your child’s eyes, you too are having a meltdown of your own. And this makes them feel unsafe.
Now let’s do it differently.
You look at your child struggling with his homework and you think :
– This kid has great potential.
– This subject is not his forte.
– We are identifying and working on his natural strengths
– He is a talented boy.
– He is going to find his calling in life.
You sense that a meltdown is about to happen and …
– You begin to breathe long deep, calming breaths as you have been taught to do.
– You sit quietly with your child, indicating that you are there for her or him.
– You avoid arguing, pontificating, providing logical solutions, rewarding or punishing.
– Keep breathing and remembering that your child is not doing this to punish you.
– See (really see) a powerful mental image of the healthy child behind the meltdown.
When you do this, your body and brain stay physiologically calm and balanced. Your child feels that you are calm and senses that you are there for him no matter what, that you are not anxious and overwhelmed. This makes him feel safe and increases the chance the he will calm down sooner, rather than escalate.
This is what NeuroParenting is about – knowing how to stimulate your child’s chemistry in a positive way. And it starts with you, and in you, first!