How to Change

Overview
   Immature Behavior
   Background
   Assumptions
   Personal Thoughts
   How to Change

Parenting Responses
   Defensive
   Offensive
   Absent
   Present
Exercising your Prefrontal Cortex = Improving Personal Mindfulness

Before making any major disciplinary changes to what you’re currently doing, study and apply these tips for increasing your brain's ability to use the Present Response as you encounter parenting situations.

1. Find a mentor. Most things in life are learned by carefully observing and mirroring someone who is capable of the skill you are trying to learn. In this case, look for someone who demonstrates strong and positive prefrontal cortex skills...like compassion, wisdom, empathy, optimism, gratitude, and forgiveness...someone who manages adversity well and inspires others because of his/her genuine love for all humankind. Observe your mentor from afar and/or talk with him/her in person. Most major religions have spiritual leaders who certainly qualify as mentors. For me personally, I can't imagine improving my prefrontal cortex without looking to Jesus Christ as an example and Savior.  My husband and I have also looked to each other and to many other great parents out there as mentors in various situations throughout our journey. We are happy to talk with you personally if you are looking for a mentor. Please reach out to us here or via our Facebook page.    
 
 2. Study, Study, Study: Study brain development (like which parts of the brain are responsible for various actions/emotions). The 'Brain Basics' tab is a good place to start, but we also recommend using the library, Google, or ask Seri. Study psychology (like various theories out there). Study parenting and child development. Study the positive aspects of different religions (learn how to meditate and be still, and learn about the benefits of humbly acknowledging a Higher Being, etc.)

3. Ponder, Ponder, Ponder: Find space in your day to ponder the direction you want to take your family. Stop other personal activities (TV, Facebook, Instagram, hobbies, etc. –at least for a time) to create such space, if needed.

4. Increase your awareness and personal mindfulness:
        a. Meditate (focused breathing, mental body scan, prayer, gratitude list, etc.) And don't forget that focused attention on your child is another form of meditating. Check the Present Moments Tab under Receiving Peace to see what I mean.
        b. Notice the difference between your children’s NAI and NDI.
        c. Observe your family’s coping styles. Take notes on how your children currently handle conflict. What is                         your child’s natural defense? Identify which part of the brain you think he/she is most likely to rely on when he/she is acting immature or feels unbalanced (scared, angry, over-excited, annoyed, etc.).
        d. Observe your current relationship with each child. Does your child “defend” themselves against you or your spouse? Be honest. Do not judge him/her for doing so…just observe.
        e. Don’t forget to observe your own current coping style. It’s easy to notice how others act, but more important (and sometimes emotionally painful) to notice how your own body responds to life. Which part of your brain jumps into action when you sense a struggle? Think about how your prefrontal cortex can help balance your brain some more.

5. Accept your and your child’s current maturity (or ability to handle stress or uncertainty). This is perhaps the hardest step!
        a. Celebrate and appreciate that you and your child have brains that are doing something (even if it is not the end mature result yet). Take notes on current strengths in you and your children (weaknesses are usually unchanneled strengths).
        b. Identify how past memories or experiences might be “blocking” your mind from having a present moment experience with your child.
        c. Work through (mourn and heal from) your past. This requires both forgiveness and repentance-like processes that are intended to fix “mis-wiring” and give your brain new paths to follow…literally. This is why this step is the hardest. Most religions have recommendations about how to do this. I use my religion's addiction recovery program to unpack hurtful emotional baggage and thus re-wire my brain. SPECIAL NOTE: Depending on your past…this step may involve lots of crying. If so…know that you’re on the right path, but be sure to have a trusted friend/spouse who is aware and supportive of your general emotional state. Don’t attempt to mourn your past alone. A solid relationship with God is critical for most people who are attempting this step.

6. Set up a regular time to talk with your spouse about parenting. Share ideas, observations, and goals together.

7. Increase your connection with each child. Set aside at least 30 minutes a day (not necessarily consecutive minutes) to focus on each child. Prioritize this time above personal hobby time. Play a mirroring game. Let each child lead you in an activity of his/her choice without knowing that you’re playing a “game.” (Other young children can be present (like a baby)…but your main focus is on one target child.) Focus your mind on what your child is feeling and thinking. Sincerely match his/her enthusiasm or emotions. Put yourself in his/her shoes. Mimic much of his/her behavior. Do not judge or make unnecessary suggestions. Let the child lead for those short, but precious minutes! If your mind gets distracted, take note on what thoughts “came rolling along”, gently remind yourself that right now your attention is on your child, and redirect your focus back to your child. Pay attention to how your mind improves at this skill as you practice it. It is another form of meditation.

After weeks (and maybe even months) of observing and building a stronger relationship with your child, you will feel inspired about how to implement the Present Parenting Pyramid as a new disciplinary guide. 

We plan to share our personal "transformation" experience in coming months. The Birth of The Pyramid shares a few insights, but there are more...