Parents often come to me in search of answers. In my first appointment with caregivers, I’m often asked for one tool, strategy, or tip to help reduce anxiety, fear, and improve behaviors. My reply is often simple: Let’s focus on the relationship. I could give a laundry list of complex strategies parents can start with. And, sometimes, this is what’s appropriate. Usually, though, spending quality, dedicated, one-on-one time together in a playful, safe way is the first step toward healing. People hurt in relationship to others, and people heal in relationship to others. This safe, secure base is the very foundation for healing. In interpersonal neurobiology, which focuses on the ways in which we are shaped by our brain, mind, and relationships, healing is said to begin with a neuroception of safety. This means that, in order for positive change to occur, a person must first have a feeling of security and safety so strong that it calms their nervous system. This is based out of the work of so many wonderful researchers and professionals, such as Dr. Daniel Siegel, Dr. Tina Bryson, Robyn Gobbel, Lisa Dion, and many, many others.
I love diving into the brain and neurobiology in a digestible, understandable way with families because it helps them to understand the why of behavior, and gives a frame of reference that takes the pressure off of the child and puts things into perspective. Focusing on improving the quality of the relationship with kids can help to provide space for kids to process tough feelings and can lead to a deepening of the connection they feel with you.
This journey can be hard, but so worthwhile. By learning about our brain and our minds, we can only improve our relationships. You don’t have to find the answers alone. Let’s do this together.