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Parenting with Emotional Intelligence

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Presentation on theme: "Parenting with Emotional Intelligence"— Presentation transcript:

1 Parenting with Emotional Intelligence
Helen Marlo, Ph.D.

2 Parenting and Emotional Intelligence
Bodies of knowledge, beliefs, and messages from “parent’s intuition;” the humanities; cultural practices; “folk” wisdom; and contemplative or spiritual traditions are being validated by clinical and research findings in developmental psychology, cognitive and affective neuroscience, infant observation, and psychotherapy outcome research. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds…” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”) These disciplines provide a scientific basis for how early childhood and parenting influence development, and are clarifying information, beliefs, and messages passed down by parents; extended family; culture; and spiritual traditions. “The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” (Blaise Pascal)

3 “The Golden Rule:”

4 The Role of Parenting: The Parent-Child Relationship and Emotional Intelligence
“…the development of the child’s whole personality is influenced by many things, including genetics, temperament, physical health, and experience. Parent-child relationships offer one very important part of the early experience that directly shapes a child’s emerging personality. Emotional intelligence, self-esteem, cognitive abilities, and social skills are built on this early attachment relationship. How parents have reflected on their lives directly shapes the nature of that relationship.” (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003, p. 5).

5 The “Triune Brain Model” (MacLean, 1990)“Three” Brains: Neocortex--Rational (“higher”); Intermediate--Emotional or Mammalian (“lower”); and Primitive—Survival or Reptilian

6 A newborn has 200 billion brain cells but few connections between them
A newborn has 200 billion brain cells but few connections between them. “Synaptic pruning” (loss of cells) begins at birth, slows around age 7, heightens at adolescence. Connections between brain cells are impacted both by genetics and the effects of experience and learning (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003) Experience-Expectant Brain Development: Genetic information determines the growth of neural connections which require an “expectable” amount of environmental stimulation. Experience-Dependent Brain Development: Experience and learning itself determines the growth of neural connections Systems in lower brain: Rage; fear; separation distress; seeking; care; play intersect powerfully with caregiver nurturing and warmth, and the impact of experience

7 Neocortex--“Rational” Brain: The higher brain, frontal lobes.
Functions/expressions: Creativity; imagination; problem-solving; reasoning; reflection; self-awareness; kindness; empathy; concern Emotionally responsive parenting impacts frontal lobes Intermediate—”Emotional” Brain: The intermediate/lower brain, the limbic system Functions/expressions: Emotions; fight/flight/freeze responses; emotional experiences: caring, nurturing, social bonding, separation distress, playfulness, exploration Triggers strong emotions that need mediation by the rational brain

8 Primitive—“Survival” Brain: The instinctive brain, oldest part of brain, related to survival
Functions/expressions: essential bodily functions including: hunger; digestion; breathing; circulation; temperature; movement; balance; territorial instincts; fight or flight response (autonomic nervous system) Mediates primal, self-preservation instincts

9 The Role of Memory in Parenting with Emotional Intelligence
Implicit memory is more dominant in infants/children; and in emotional, social, and stressful situations in adulthood. Parenting without emotional intelligence often occurs when we unconsciously react to an implicit memory and operate from this unconsciously recalled emotional state Implicit Memory (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003) Present at birth No internal sense of recollection when recalled; non-intentional memory; felt sense of spontaneous emergence Nonverbal; procedural; non-declarative form of memory Previous experience influences current experience Stores “mental models:” Generalizations of repeated experiences Experienced as a “feeling;” or behavioral, emotional, perceptual, or bodily memory Conscious attention is not required for encoding—bypasses hippocampus

10 The Role of Memory in Parenting with Emotional Intelligence
Explicit memory develops later in infancy, is necessary for adaptation/functioning, and is dominant in tasks requiring conscious attention. Explicit memory is more operative in daily tasks of parenting Explicit Memory Develops during second year of life and beyond Internal sense of recollection experienced when recalled Deliberate, intentional recollecting Declarative form of memory Includes factual (semantic) and autobiographical (episodic) forms of memory Autobiographical memory involves sense of self and time; involves prefrontal cortex/frontal lobes (develops later) Requires conscious attention for encoding Involves the hippocampus

11 Right Hemisphere: First 3 years of life—neocortex is not “on-line;” “mammalian” and “reptilian” brains are dominant Activation is required for situations needing social-emotional competence Right Mode Processing—Primarily right hemisphere (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003): Nonlinear “Irrational” Incongruent relationships; combinations Holistic Visual-spatial Musical Kinesthetic Nonverbals; facial expressions; body language Emotions Bodily awareness and regulation “Mindsight:” Understanding others

12 Left-Mode Processing-Primarily left hemisphere (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003):
Linear Rational Logical Linguistic/verbal Symbolic Cause and effect (“syllogistic reasoning”) “Right versus wrong” forms of thought Analytical

13 Parenting and Emotional Intelligence

14 Parent-child relationship (“Attachment relationship”) and Social-emotional development
Our childhoods do not determine our fate. Rather, research consistently finds that how a parent understands and makes sense of his/her childhood experiences profoundly impacts parenting, child’s security, social/emotional development. Reflected in the “narrative”—the story—a parent tells about his/her life Implications for parenting: promote a parent’s self (“internal”) understanding and his/her capacity for connecting interpersonally. Being mindful: Present moment; awareness of thoughts and feelings in self/others Lifelong learning: Openness to experience; novelty Response flexibility: Attunement; adaptiveness Mindsight: Ability to perceive our minds and the minds of others Joyful living: Growth through increased positive emotions; play (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003)

15 Parent-Child Styles Patterns of relating are generally classified in discrete categories but, in reality, most dimensions exist on a continuum and often more than one category is applicable. All theories of parent-child interaction emphasize the parent-child relationship is one important variable but acknowledge the influence that culture, socialization, genetics, temperament, and trauma have on the developing child.

16 Parenting Styles:

17 Parenting Styles: (Diana Baumrind, 1967; Eleanor Maccoby and John Martin, 1983)
Authoritarian: high demandingness with low responsiveness. Parent is “obedience and status-oriented;” high expectations, punishing, rigid, harsh, and demanding. Permissive: low demandingness with high responsiveness. Parent is indulgent, lenient, low expectations of maturity, avoids confrontation; seldom enforces consistent rules; often takes on role of friend. Uninvolved: low demandingness with low responsiveness. Generally fulfills basic needs but neglectful, minimal communication and involvement; detached from child’s life Authoritative: moderate demandingness with moderate responsiveness. Clear standards but flexible; firm not rigid; responsive not indulgent; assertive not intrusive/restrictive; supportive not punitive with discipline; more nurturing/forgiving than punishing; expectations of maturity

18 Parenting Styles Parenting Traits Responsive [Warmth]
Unresponsive [Coldness] Demanding [Structured] Authoritative Authoritarian Undemanding [Unstructured] Indulgent Neglectful

19 Interpersonal Patterns
“Moving towards;” “Moving away;” “Moving against” others (Karen Horney, 1945) Attachment styles (Mary Ainsworth, 1978; Mary Main, 1986) Secure”-- “Secure Style”— Secure, free, autonomous, yet dependent, child who finds comfort in parent but plays, explores, and is imaginative. Caretaker is generally sensitive, prompt and responsive to child’s signals, warm, consistent, and accepting yet has times of insensitivity, unresponsiveness, and “mistakes.”

20 “Insecure”-- “Anxious Ambivalent”— Preoccupied, entangled child who is clingy, demanding, distressed over separations, and anxious. Seeks proximity to caregiver but can’t be soothed by caregiver; too preoccupied to explore, imagine, and play freely. Caregiver is generally unpredictable, chaotic, attentive but unattuned; overprotective, intrusive, interferes with independence and encourages dependence. Responsive when child heightens his/her demands. Parent particularly tuned into fear and anxiety but inconsistent in responsiveness and accessibility.

21 “Insecure”-- “Avoidant Style”—Dismissing, angry; aggressive; withdrawn; or aloof child who isolates, withdraws; exhibits inhibited or restricted exploration, imagination, and play; seeks little physical contact. Caretaker is generally emotionally unavailable, cool, evaluative, critical, rejecting, angry, discourages emotional expression, encourages independence, dislikes “neediness” or closeness, especially bodily contact. “Insecure”—“Disorganized”--Child acts in disorganized, contradictory, confused, frightened and frightening ways from unresolved trauma/loss. Child may freeze, detach, or dissociate; explode emotionally; appear in “other world.” Caregiver tends to have unresolved grief, loss, or trauma; may be dissociative, neglectful, inattentive, or abusive. Caregiver’s frightening, fearful, or disorienting behaviors and responses to traumas/loss creates alarm in child—“fright without solution”—which child enacts.

22 Adult Attachment Patterns (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003)
Categories as children and as adults Child Adult Secure Secure Avoidant Dismissing Ambivalent Preoccupied; entangled Disorganized Unresolved trauma or loss; disorganized

23 Self-Reflection

24 Self-Reflection Exercise
Try answering the following with what first comes to mind without mental screening and deliberate thought: Name an image that reminds you of: Your mother Your father An adult who highly influenced or mentored you Your child(ren) Name first five adjectives that come to mind that describe: Recall a memory or a story that describes:

25 Self-Reflection Exercise
What internal responses do you have to your answers (i.e. feelings, thoughts, sensations, memories)? Can you elaborate upon or describe each of your responses in more detail? What do you notice inside as you try to elaborate upon each of these responses? Do you see yourself as alike or unlike your: Image to describe mother/father/mentor/child(ren) Adjectives to describe mother/father/mentor/child(ren) Memory to describe mother/father/mentor/child(ren) What feelings are you experiencing now to your responses? Do you see any relationships between your responses (i.e. your images; adjectives; and memories); what you elaborated upon, described and imagined; and your parenting, especially areas that are more challenging?

26 Self-Reflection Questions: Parent-child or “Attachment” Relationship (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003)
What was it like growing up in your family? How did you get along with your parents early in childhood? How did the relationship evolve in your youth and into the present? How did your relationship with your mother and father differ; how was it similar? In what ways do you try to be like or different from each of your parents? Did you feel rejected or threatened; overwhelmed or traumatized by childhood experiences? How did your parents discipline you? What were your earliest separations from your parents? Were there prolonged separations? Did you have any significant deaths in your life as a child?

27 Self-Reflection Questions: Parent-child or “Attachment” Relationship (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003)
How did your parents communicate with you when you were happy and excited; distressed and unhappy? Did anyone besides your parents care for you? What was that relationship like? Did you have positive relationships outside your home with other adults? How have childhood experiences influenced your relationships now as an adult? Are you aware of trying not to behave in certain ways given your childhood experiences? Are you aware of patterns of relating that you find challenging and wish to change?

28 Emotionally Intelligent Parenting
Connect with your own experiences of being parented using more than your rational, “higher” brain. Connect with the “mammalian” and “reptilian” parts of your child’s brain. Forge connections to your child’s higher, rational brain through active mentoring, engagement, interpersonal involvement in the entire “connective” process. Actively participate in shaping stress-regulating systems of brain (dangers of oversensitive stress-response systems) through structured engagement; attunement to child; warm, empathic responsiveness Bring autonomic nervous system into balance with child: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic systems Modulate hyperarousal

29 Parenting and Empathy

30 Implications for Parenting
The Role of Empathy: Active, involved process of attunement toward your child’s experience. Facilitated through empathic statements; conjectures; questions; clarifications; and behaviors that contribute or “add something” to the exchange. It is not paraphrasing, parroting back, or reflecting what your child just expressed Becoming invested in increasing your understanding of your child’s inner and outer life and specific concerns. Tracking and making contact with what is most important Noting what is being expressed on a variety of levels—verbally, nonverbally, somatically, metaphorically.

31 Listening to the content (what is being said) and the process (how it is being said)
Requires intensive self examination especially of one’s critical and judgmental parts Demands connection with and differentiation from your self and the “other” (i.e. you vs. your child) Empathy is confused with approval; consistently responding with warmth and kindness; indulgence; permissiveness; coddling or spoiling; lack of boundaries, control, or structure; stupidity; and being naïve.

32 Implications for Parenting
Enhance empathy: Teach by example Model compassion; empathic interest; value empathy Make wise choices re: schools; social and recreational activities. Other empathic adult influences matter. Share stories with specific details with your children about you; your day; them; your experiences of them Understand your emotional reactions. Share and explain them with your child. Link behavior, body, and emotion. Teach children about body language Identify feelings: through faces; story characters; in animals; in books and movies; in interpersonal exchanges. Play the “what if” game: change stories to encourage perspective taking and increase divergent thinking and empathy.

33 Implications for Parenting
Encourage symbolic thinking: “what else might this be?” Exposure to diversity in daily life experiences (i.e. trying a new restaurant) and in interpersonal relationships Play games that encourage story-telling and discussion of feelings: The Ungame; Life Stories; The Feelings Playing Cards Help with identifying, naming, labeling feelings. Offer your feelings and reactions as a springboard. Encourage altruistic activities or that involve caring for others Use all sensory modalities to connect with understanding feeling states Use physical sensations/kinesthetic experience; music; and art to foster greater understanding of feeling states Read fiction as an adult and to your children “How would you feel if…” game; “Think outside the box…” game; “Color outside the lines…” game.

34 Implications for Parenting
The Role of Verbal Experience: Integrative Communication (Siegel and Hartznell, 2003) Attunement: The more a parent knows their story, the freer they are to allow their child to have his/her story Awareness: Verbally, nonverbally, somatically Empathy Expression: Internal and external Joining: Give and take verbally and nonverbally; mutuality; reciprocity Clarification Sovereignty: Respect dignity; separateness of other

35 Implications for Parenting
The Role of Non-Verbal Experience: Effective for engaging “mammalian” and “reptilian” brain—right hemisphere engagement The value of silence Verbal/vocal tone and affect Emotional content and process Physical affection Physical touch and physical presence Sensory experience Visual and auditory experiences Pace and rhythm The Power of Experience Cultivating/enhancing positive emotional states Importance of play The value of novelty


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