My Parenting handbook

Parenting Hadnbook

Chapter 1

The Neurobiology of Parenting

In this chapter you explore how your child’s brain develops and grows, how to work with the brain instead of against it, and how sometimes our expectations as parents aren’t inline with our child’s development.

Tania and I both knew we wanted to be parents, and we waited longer than most to have children. I think we both knew from working with children the kind of commitment it would be, but nothing truly prepares you for this job: the late-night feedings, the constant demand for attention and connection, an endless number of messes to clean, grieving the social life and freedom you once had, and being able to shower every day without interruption.

At the end of the day, we are raising tiny humans with the hope that they will turn out to be happy, resilient, kind adults. There is no road map, no perfect toolbox—every step of the parenting journey has its own triumphs and tribulations. Parenting elicits deep-seated feelings of love, affection, and joy; parenting also elicits impatience, anger, and frustration. In this chapter, we will delve into some basic science of what we call compassionate parenting, as well as times where we veer off course and enter a state of reactive parenting.

The neurological changes our children undergo as they advance through the variety of ages and stages of development are nothing short of remarkable. Healthy neurological growth requires parents to set the stage for our children to reach their full potential, and this demands an immense amount of effort from our own brains to sustain this process.

Many years ago, it was believed that we arrived in this world as a blank slate, and that is far from true. Children are born with approximately 100 billion neurons, and by adulthood this will have decreased to 85 billion neurons. This is because of a process called synaptic pruning in adolescence, which we will cover later on. But even with that many neurons, the process of developing the brain is far from over. Human brains take longer than any other mammals

to mature, and it is both an individual’s experiences and the quality of their relationships that will determine the process of maturation. This is where parenting could not be more important.

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