1. How is Present Parenting different than other parenting methods?
    The most notable difference in Present Parenting is in disciplinary situations among children ages 1-8. When young children “misbehave” or act immature, Present Parents do not invent consequences that are intended to persuade the child to act a certain way. They simply teach natural consequences in a loving way and share accountability with the child whenever repairs or progress needs to be made.

  2. If the focus of Present Parenting is to help the child settle his/her needs, does that mean the child is in charge? In other words, is Present Parenting a child-centered philosophy as opposed to a parent-centered approach?
    Yes and no. We would categorize Present Parenting as both child-centered and parent-centered. One of the key aspects of the Accountability Pyramid is that both parent and child need each other in order to acquire a highly developed prefrontal cortex. As a child slowly matures, the parent’s job is to be highly aware of the child’s needs, be willing to sacrifice personal time and space regularly to meet the child’s needs, and lead the child in gaining skills, moral values, and emotional regulation.

    A Present Parent is very much in charge, but in a humble, open-minded, leading, and loving kind of way. Essentially, the parent carefully observes a child’s strengths and weaknesses, and then consistently acts in charitable ways to build the child’s self-worth over many developmental stages.

  3. Is timeout bad?
    Sending a child away to a time-out because of misbehavior or to “calm” down forces a child to use whatever brain areas are already highly functioning (probably not the prefrontal cortex) to rebalance when under stress. This may stimulate overuse in some brain areas, creating coping mechanisms that become difficult for the child to overcome in later years.

    To help the child gain prefrontal cortex regulating capabilities (which takes many, many years), the child must be in the loving presence of someone who is capable of demonstrating that very skill...ideally the parent...and particularly during times when the child is dysregulated, or out of control. Sending a child away for an isolated time-out, or calming period, doesn’t allow the child to mirror the parent’s emotional regulation skills, or prefrontal cortex in action, during times when the child needs it the most.

    In rare cases, a Present Parent may feel that a timeout is appropriate for a child’s growth. However, timeout usage is typically a Defensive or Offensive Parenting response. Parents should be honest in searching their intentions behind using a timeout. Am I reacting to my child? Am I frustrated with who my child is right now or worried about who my child will become? If so, using timeout is a method of settling my own emotions and will not help the child long-term.

    As the child increases in maturity, or in other words after years of mirroring someone with a mature prefrontal cortex, the child will become capable of safely calming down when alone. Look for changes in this area during the Accountability Stage and Self-Discipline Stage.  Use wisdom in leading the child towards this growth. However, don't expect or work towards independent "calming" during the Attachment and Following Stages.

    Special NOTE: If a parent is currently incapable of a Present Parenting response and feels destructive (physically, emotionally, or verbally), using a timeout may be necessary to protect the child from the parent. Recognize that this is not a positive long-term solution. The parent should seek help. This Addiction Recovery Program is a great resource for overcoming personal destructive emotions.

    The beauty of Present Parenting is that both child and adult can improve prefrontal cortex balancing capabilities when they spend focused time on re-balancing together.

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  4. What do I do if I’m not very skilled at using my prefrontal cortex, or in other words what do I do if I feel out of control myself?
    First...congratulate yourself for noticing that that’s how you feel while you take a deep breath.
    Second...don’t worry. Just like any skill in life, your brain needs lots of practice for prefrontal cortex usage to feel more natural and comfortable. If you’re just starting...keep at it. Take one moment at a time.
    Third, know that you are not alone.
    Fourth, begin here on How to Change.
    Fifth, remember that while raising a vulnerable child, it is normal and healthy to feel vulnerable yourself.
    Sixth, if necessary, contact your health care provider for professional advice.

  5. “Time-in”...What is that?
    Instead of sending a child away to calm down and re-balance alone, in Present Parenting we like to connect with the child during times of conflict so he/she can develop a stronger prefrontal cortex over the course of the growing up years.

    When a child is out of balance (and therefore throws a tantrum, runs wild, battles with a sibling, etc.), a Present Parenting response involves “lending” the child the parent’s prefrontal cortex balancing capabilities, which requires connecting in an inspired way, or spending "time-in" together.  As the parent focuses loving attention on the child, re-balancing can occur. Connecting can include holding the child gently, listening with real intent, speaking in an empathetic and sincere way, playing alongside one another, or making eye contact. After many, many instances, the child’s brain can begin to do this when alone as well (in later years).

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  6. What are mentoring sessions?
    Mentoring sessions are one-on-one talks with a child. They can be formal or informal. They can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes. The mentor (or parent) focuses on the child without distractions. The parent(s) listens and makes suggestions based on impressions that come to mind during the session. Pre-planned ideas or concerns may be discussed as long as the parent remains open-minded.

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  7. How often do you have mentoring sessions?
    We hold formal mentoring sessions at least twice a month…usually on a Sunday evening. The kids really look forward to talking one-on-one with us. With Accountability Stage children, we review goals, activities, bank account balances, etc. We listen to issues that they each want to share. We address individual concerns that we’d noticed throughout the week and had put on "The List of Important Topics to Discuss with ______." If an immediate concern needs to be addressed during the week, we obviously address it with the child during the week if we are calm enough not to nag. It’s not a black and white process. We go by how we “feel.”

    With Following or Attachment Stage children, we simply spend a few minutes talking about anything they seem interested in discussing. Having an adult sincerely listening to them is a powerful (and often very entertaining) experience. We might insert a life-lesson occasionally if it seems appropriate.

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  8. How do you “rejuvenate” instead of “escape”?
    The difference between rejuvenating and escaping is very subtle. It depends on the intent of your heart. Two people can be doing the same activity, but with very different intentions…one to receive energy with the desire to improve, grow, and give that new energy away again…and the other to soak in energy with the intent of keeping it to oneself and basking in it.

    What do I do personally?? I spend time pondering. I’m learning how to meditate like some of my Buddhist friends do. I read spiritual books or brain books. I write. Sometimes I like to peruse the blogs of inspiring people. Most of all...I like to talk with my husband. Somehow telling him what’s on my mind makes everything better again.

    I also like to spend one-on-one time with my kids. I like to watch their eyes and curiously observe what their little bodies and minds are naturally drawn to. When I really focus on their thoughts and feelings, I can really feel myself "filling up again."

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