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Parenting Pitfalls - The Two Critical Turning Points of Childhood

Jul 24, 2008
What are the most frustrating years of being a parent? An overwhelming consensus of parents believe it is when children are two, and then around fourteen.

Neuroscience now gives solid validation that something striking is happening during these times. It all comes down to brain-wiring.

Virtually overnight, around age two, the first significant change appears when a child recognizes that he or she is an individual with a separate identity. At this point, children begin to assert their individuality with the common "me, my, mine" statements. This indicates the early stages of the formation of the conscious mind, and burgeoning neural network.

Taking about five years to fully form, the conscious mind is learning to protect the highly suggestible subconscious mind. Until this critical survival faculty is firmly in place, everything seen, heard, and witnessed has unfettered access to the subconscious.

Harmless statements to a child such as "You're so messy" or "Why can't you be more like your sister?" are in reality, potentially damaging suggestions that are conveyed directly to the child's subconscious mind. Experience indicates that most issues adults present in therapy sessions are related to the core belief patterns established before the age of seven.

The next significant metamorphosis takes place around age fourteen. The teenage brain begins the second transformation in wiring, which accounts for typical adolescent impulsiveness, defiance, lack of organizational skills, and narcissism. At this stage, the brain lacks the neural wiring to effectively moderate behavior and emotional responses. Frequently sparking turmoil, the teenage brain is preparing that individual for autonomy by testing limits, building skills, and encouraging individual initiative.

A parent's most important role during this stage is to provide children with a secure, loving environment while allowing events to unfold. Rather than reacting, parents need to recognize that these events and struggles are preparing children for life in the real world.

Here are some helpful tips for parents to express unconditional love and acceptance to their child:

In discussion, look them in the eyes, at eye level, not down at them. Focus more on their feelings, challenges, and needs, rather than their behaviors.
Demonstrate that you value their uniqueness and independence. Support their drive to expand their confidence and social skills. Take a deep breath, and think before you speak. Your words have a lasting impact.

Cherish the journey of parenthood. It's the most responsible job on the planet.
About the Author
International speaker, Dr. Brian E. Walsh is the author of the bestseller Unleashing Your Brilliance and has also co-authored with John Gray and Jack Canfield the self-help book, 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life: Volume 2.
Find out more here.
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