Monday, September 24, 2012

"Stuck" - Eek!

Another offering from Samantha Sawyer . . .

“Stuck” – eek!

You’re stuck. I’m stuck. We’re all stuck in a rut!

Does it seem like your child always gets stuck? Stuck in a tantrum, stuck and clinging to your leg, stuck with anxiety or thought perseverations?

Children often get stuck when they are operating from the “downstairs” portion of their brains, the part responsible for survival. These brains then pump your little one's body full of stress chemicals as if she needs to escape from a lion in the jungle. And you know what that feels like because when she's in "fight or flight" mode it triggers the exact same stress chemistry in…you guessed it…YOU.

Traditional parenting techniques teach you to stay firm, hold your ground and above all else – never give in. However, these methods don’t incorporate the latest neuroscience and child development research into the most important of everyday interactions, the ones between you and your child. And – science aside – how are those techniques working for you anyway? If you're like many families you're thinking:

My child still throws fits.
I’m still feeling stressed out.
Our household is still loaded with tension.

The most common reason for your child being stuck is due to using techniques from the “upstairs” brain, the part responsible for logic and problem solving. As adults we're really good at that, however, we also inadvertently keep children stuck “downstairs” because of our oh-so-serious “upstairs” approach:

Stop crying; you’ll be fine.
I’m not picking you up because then you’ll be getting your way.
Just close your eyes and go to sleep there’s nothing to be worried about.

Don’t feel bad if these are common thoughts or sayings in your house – they are common, which is why I wrote this article for you. And if you feel uncomfortable now that you know these phrases contribute to stuck-ness, it means you're ready to shift. Perfect, because I'm about to tell you how. If you’ve received parent and/or play coaching from me before you’ve heard what I’m about to say. And I warn you it sounds easy, and it can be, however, truly making a shift requires conscious effort and daily practice.
Solution to "stuck" - Meet your child where they are at.

What – that’s it? Yes. Research shows that when we meet a child where s/he is at, the brain chemistry will naturally start to self-soothe so s/he feels calm rather than upset. Techniques of heartfelt appreciation, attunement, and/or joining in child-centered play are all ways to ease your child out of fight or flight mode because the root of them all is meeting your child where she is at. It "causes" a decrease in tantrums, an increase in self-soothing and greater joyful expression. Need more to motivate you? More of the bright side: when your child is calm and happy your mirror neurons kick-in and you naturally become calm and happy too.

So give it a try. Get everyone’s brain in the same room by meeting your child where she's at. You’ll be building a ladder to help her up, enhance her self-soothing capabilities and improve social awareness skills. Help your child get un-stuck and you will get un-stuck too. Then you can get outside and enjoy the fall weather and changing leaves...together!

That's why Brightening Connections provides play coaching to families in their homes. We help you identify what area of the brain your child is in and the best ways to help her get un-stuck. Want to try parent and/or play coaching?  We’re offering 10 FREE initial consultations in October. 
Contact Samantha today at 651-785-3059 or  (must mention Nannies to “win”)

BIO: Samantha Sawyer M.A., CCC-SLP and Certified Parent Coach, empowers parents to be the expert and reveal their child's unique skills while enhancing family dynamics with her innovative and holistic "5 Polka Dots" approach. Her passion is teaching caregivers fun and easy ways to enhance development through play in their natural home environment.

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