Do you feel like you are just barely getting by? Are you a stressed-out parent wanting to feel more purposeful in your life?
Using Intention always creates purpose, it brings order to chaos, it’s the peace we crave as parents. The only problem is how do we use intentional interactions in each moment with our children?
Imagine we are at a restaurant and your child throws food across the room.
Your surviving intention would be: Stop my child from throwing food!
Your Thriving intention would be somewhere along the lines of: Teach my child boundaries.
As parents, one of the most important things we can do is to teach our children to be great human beings. Teach them kindness, compassion, and resilience.
From our research with the brain, we know the best time to teach our children is when they have full access to the prefrontal cortex. For an easy explanation of this, my teacher Dr. Daniel Siegel divides the brain into two parts. The higher and lower part of the brain. Most likely when they are throwing food they are in the limbic part of the brain, otherwise known as the Lower part of the brain.
The Lower part of the brain is physically below the higher cortical regions of the brain such as the prefrontal cortex. In science, they are known as the “sub-cortical areas” which are linked with your primal instincts. For instance, if your child walks In front of the street when a car is coming, and you scream and grab your child, this is the reactionary part of ourselves. This is the hidden part of our self that doesn’t come out unless it feels unsafe. This is also known as the fight, flight and flee part of our brain. Areas in the brain associated with the lower part of the brain are the amygdala, hippocampus, hypothalamus, and others.
The Higher part of the brain Is essentially the outer bark of the brain where the pre-frontal cortex, insular cortex, and anterior cingulate reside. This part of the brain forms perceptions of the outside world to ideas about the brain and well-being. This part of the brain is about making connections and sense of yourself. This is the part of the brain that retains information best for learning, inspires focus and has the potential for kindness and compassion.
So when our child throws food, if we were to follow our thriving intention we would want to connect with our child once it is in the higher part of the brain.
Now the question becomes how do I get my child into the higher part of the brain?
Here are a couple steps to help your child access the higher part of the brain:
Connect with your child by an empathetic touch, a compassionate voice, or with soft eyes and get eye level to your child.
Acknowledge what your child is communicating to you, in this case, it could be that your child wants attention, or he wants to play by throwing things. You could say something like: “ I see you want to play or you want my attention. Can we play when we get home?”.