The Pyramid‎ > ‎

Foundation

Overview
   Foundation

Sides of Pyramid:
   Yellow Side
   Blue Side
   Red Side
   Green Side

Growth Stages (Yellow):
   Ages 0-3
   Ages 1-8
   Ages 7-12
   Ages 11-18
   Ages 16-20+
   Ages 20+
The Foundation of Present Parenting is: Use Your PFC!

Success with The Accountability Pyramid depends on the strength of one's prefrontal cortex, or PFC. So giving your prefrontal cortex daily exercise and attention is very important. 

In Present Parenting, in order to respond to our children with a present response (instead of a defensive, offensive or absent response) engaging the prefrontal cortex in a positive way and improving personal mindfulness is essential.

To help with this process, remember “PFC”  (which is the scientific abbreviation for prefrontal cortex):

P = Pause when your body detects chaos or uncertainty
F = Focus your attention on a situation/child with an open mind
C = Choose to set aside personal fear while choosing to perform a charitable act that will benefit someone else

Below is my personal thoughts on Using my PFC:

P = Pause when your body detects chaos or uncertainty. Be still. Be grateful your senses can communicate information to you. Be grateful your body wants to warn you against potential danger. Be at peace. Meditate. Use the Past: ponder past events with an open, non-judgmental mind and notice why your body feels threatened. Take note about unresolved issues, or "past baggage" that you need to heal from. Use the Future: ponder the positive potential that's waiting on the horizon and let it fill you with hope. This prepares you to Be Present: accept the current maturity level in you and your children with a peaceful heart and be filled with the joy life brings in each moment.

Accepting current immaturity is often the hardest part of pondering. Our bodies are so good at warning us against immaturity or opposition or less than perfect outcomes. By paying close attention to my body, I notice when my alarm system sounds. Our bodies are also good at protecting or defending us from unpleasantness. But our natural walls of protection often make openly sitting peacefully with an immature moment (before my body automatically goes into a defensive or offensive "reaction mode") nearly impossible.

When I feel overwhelmed with the task of feeling peaceful, so I can then pass peace on to my children and spouse, I use our church's Addiction Recovery Program Guide to re-wire my brain in favor of rejuvenating emotions like peace, hope, joy, and love and away from destructive emotions like fear, worry, anger, annoyance, and bitterness. This process often requires painful mourning as I work through various personal weaknesses or past baggage, but mourning is a worthwhile bridge to cross on my journey over to the brighter side. And I never feel alone on this journey because of dear loved ones and especially because of my relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, who ultimately makes the whole journey possible.

Brent and I prioritize individual meditation moments as part of our daily routine. We also pray together at night.This gives us great strength. Then, we make a major effort to pause before reacting inappropriately (in word or body language) to stressful situations that occur throughout the day. By nature, we are both pretty laid back, but it is still very hard to control our emotions. We are learning.

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F = Focus your attention on a situation/child with an open mind. With focused attention, great things are accomplished. In other words, whatever you spend your focused energy on, you will become very good at. And the opposite is also true: non-focused attention results in a lesser ability in any given area (see myelination and pruning under 'Brain Basics'). For example, cab drivers have more neurological mass in the spacial awareness area of the brain. Violinists have more neurological mass in the motor area of the brain that controls the left hand fingers. So, naturally, we should be thoughtful and wise about what receives our focused attention. If we want to exercise the PFC part of our brains (which controls moral behavior), we have to focus our attention on moral issues, empathy, emotional regulation, and genuine human connections.

Most faiths have a basic moral creed (check my personal religious views to see mine). Truly pondering and practicing the values that give meaning to my life every day exercises my PFC. Connecting with other human beings in a loving, accepting, forgiving way, also exercises the PFC neurons. When we notice immaturity in our children, we no longer use "made up" consequences to try to manipulate their behavior. In contrast, we do "step #1", then we set aside trivial matters and turn our attention TO the stressed or misbehaving child in a loving, empathetic, and guiding way (whenever possible) instead of isolating them, leaving them to cope on their own. We've seen huge maturity strides in all of our children, despite their very different personalities and coping styles. Prioritizing selfless focused attention toward each member of my family is a very fulfilling experience.

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C = Choose to set aside personal fear while choosing a charitable act that will benefit someone else. As our children advance up through the natural stages of The Pyramid, we conscientiously choose charity when encountering the great parenting question, "What do I DO to discipline my child?" The Pyramid shows us how the definition of charity changes based on the maturity of the child. In the early years, it means spending an enormous amount of time and energy WITH our children, modeling appropriate behavior and absorbing natural consequences alongside them (as opposed to imposing consequences that isolate them from us). As they mature, charity means allowing accountability to shift to their shoulders very naturally (around age 7 or 8) because their maturing minds choose to take it. By the late-teen years, we expect our children to think and act independently from us (because that's what teenage brains are programmed to do), while co-existing and contributing in our family community. We'll show charity by giving them complete responsibility for all of their personal affairs as we express our confidence in and love for who they have become. At all ages, we show charity by seeking to understand our children's challenges and by paying close attention to our relationship with them.

In general, we value our children's agency (and our own), and find we cannot force them to change their immature behaviors. Force (unnatural rewards and punishment) causes coping mechanisms that inhibit the PFC, making life challenges more difficult for them as their bodies grow. Therefore, the greatest charity I can choose for my children is to exhibit supreme self-discipline by changing myself, (recognize my own weaknesses and turn them into strengths via my religious faith), which inspires them to follow my example.

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