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Nourishing Families : Nurturing Children’s Emotional Wellbeing and Brain Development

It is important to be able to support your children no matter how old they are and make sense of their ever changing emotions.  Children’s brains undergo key changes according to their age or developmental stage. We know so much more now because of the new scientific research on brain development which is why it is even more important to help them during these key transitions.

Being a secure adult for children during these times of change is also key so that they can learn from their secure attachments in their lives.

Every felt emotion is linked to key brain developmental changes and hormone drivers

Parenting children when they are going through key developmental changes can be complex and challenging and we all know too well when it begins to gone wrong or get muddled for everyone how long it can take to put it right.

Adult carers can help their children by mirroring positive adult behaviour and relational attributes by regulating their own emotions and put the child’s emotional wellbeing first.

Having an  environment in which they can learn to be themselves and encourage openness can take time to nurture.  

Teach your children emotional resilience – be present and available to them

  • Make time to talk through the tough conversations and hear their point of view
  • Actively LISTEN – Don’t be too hard on them – speak openly and hear them – learn to keep lines of communication open and talk through misunderstandings to arrive at a place that is comfortable for all
  • Always making time and discuss things after a tricky situation or if words are said you all dont mean- be a reflective carer and admit your mistakes
  • Be calm and open – hear them so you learn as much as possible from any misunderstanding – use empathic listening
  • Being good role models helps children no matter their age learn how to manage themselves, their emotions as they mirror adults around them.  Grow compassion – listen to the points they make which sound like you – they can be like are little sponges who take in all of the environment and we also carry our parents scripts of good and bad remarks or unconscious parenting. If you hear things you don’t like -reflect on how you can change 
  • Using your past experiences – put yourself in their shoes as it were to help your children learn to recover – do something fun later on in the day to repair the relationship -Apply the 10-20 10 rule – 10 mins in the morning – 20 min after school – 10 mins before bed – this is where you spend quality time on them doing something to strengthen the relationship with them and have a little fun.
Help children to learn how to reflect on behaviour and provide consistency = Love Based Approach to parenting
It is important that you feel equipped to support your children and make sense of their ever changing emotions as our brains undergo key changes at different ages and their are many hormones that play a role in how we feel too. We now know so much more about brain development and helping children as much as we can using new research continually shows up things we can learn from to be better Parents. Children go through developmental changes and their environment has a part to play so modelling positive parenting is also key.

Having an environment in which they learn which is nurturing and supportive this takes time to develop and it’s a constant learning for everyone.
Don’t be too hard on them if they make  mistakes : No one’s perfect including adults!
Make time to discuss things in a calm way and talk to them so they can learn as much as possible from mistakes.  

Being good role models helps children no matter their age learn how to manage themselves and their emotions as they mirror adults around them.  Have you ever heard yourself in them!  That’s when it really hits you that they are little sponges who take in all of the environment.   

Using your own past experiences to help your children overcome challenges.     Make regular time to have fun with children  helps us relax and can help bonding. 
 I play bananagrams, backgammon, cards and connections with my children and these are some of what they like to play- they are 13, 18 and 20! )
While we play, I  listen to what they have to say and this is a time I can  be totally present
and listen to them without any agenda.
Getting to know your children and teen’s and what makes them happy changes as they go through brain changes so keeping small moments to enjoy them help keep communication open. important as you in supporting your child.
Spending quality time to make your bond stronger

Do something every day that makes you all laugh

Life can often feel serious, so it’s important to savour the silly moments. Think about what
you enjoyed as a child or teenager. What lifted your spirits? , or made you laugh? Try reflecting to help you and your child could do something fun or out of he ordinary together.
It could be something as simple as sharing stories about your day, playing a board game, or telling your favourite jokes. Making time to hear them is very important to their self esteem

Cooking together can be a great bonding and therapeutic

I ask each of my  children to help make food for the family each week. Getting  them involved in chopping or prepping dinner, or baking is a creative way of doing this. Being there and present and chatting about things in a  relaxed way helps build bonding time. We create a menu at the beginning of the week and each family member  thinks of an easy dish they haven’t made before and then we create it within one hour making the food together. 

Try some of my recipes form my Recipe section above
https://nourishednaturally.co.uk/2017/11/28/vegan-chocolate-cake/
or
https://nourishednaturally.co.uk/2016/05/14/raw-chocolate-truffles-recipe/

Mindful & Love based Therapeutic Parenting

Here’s what science has to say about child development and happy brain function.

An impulsive reaction, triggered by emotions such ad fear, anger, shouting can rise up from the amygdala and hippocampus—the most ancient parts of our brain. These parts evolved to respond with defensive action to threatening situations.

So, If we can delay this reactivity, the newer pre-frontal cortex of the brain can respond from a place of reflection and thoughtfulness. The PFC (pre-frontal cortex) is associated with maturity, including regulating emotions and behaviors and making wise decisions.

Parents can use ‘Mindfulness practice’ to diminish the reactivity from the amygdala and strengthens the pre-frontal cortex. Any arousal seen as threatening is blocked by the amygdala, prompting an immediate reflexive reaction: fight, flight, or freeze. You know where I’m going with this.

As we learn to be more mindful and help our children collectively using the techniques above, their brains can be grow accordingly and reduce the need to move into flight fight or frozen responses. Just by being calmer around children and less reactive, we teach our children and the their amygdala threat or responses change automatically and classify the sensory input as being pleasurable or non threatening.

The other thing I have done for my children is show them how I manage stress- such as gong for walks, listening to calming music, my yoga which I do at home and the food I give them telling them the benefits of it as we eat it so they get the drip effect of my reflections and being a better parent for them and me.

If you found this article helpful, please write a comment or get in touch .

Randhiraj Bilan – I am a qualified Senior Social Worker and fully registered – Also trained with in Systemic Family Therapy for children, families and couple


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