Archives for the month of: June, 2013

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WHERE DOES ATTACHMENT ‘COME FROM?’

son & mother - attachment

(ONTARIO) From the heart, of course. But so many parent who have lots of heart still struggle with it.¬† Take comfort in the fact that you are in the majority.¬† ‚ÄďA large majority actually, at least in Canada and the U.S.¬† Blame it on technologically focused society, hyper-mobility or the six-day corporate work week, for decades now (at a minimum) most of us have been growing up with overriding, child-parent ‘issues.’¬† That is: Most of us as parents have our own attachment¬†

These are typically the big pieces, in how each of us manages the relationship, with¬†each child¬†we have.¬†For most of us, our own uncertainties about ‘how to be’ just plain get in the way.

WHAT? ARE YOU SAYING WE’VE ALL BECOME SELF-ABSORBED PARENTS? No.¬† It would be amazing if every one of us could always feel good about ourselves and about our child‚ÄĒand at the same time! ¬†But unless you’re among the fortunate few (and it has very little to do with economics) who have grown up feeling over-archingly secure and con-fident your-self, or you have done some very advanced personal growth, that often turns out to be one !@#$%^&*! challenge.

WHAT IS CO-REGULATION? 

Father and son - attachment

How we learn to handle the toughest times and how we figure them out, as a child-parent ‘team’ makes all the difference.¬† How can two such unequal people truly be a team? That is the emotional genius of parental learning. We¬†don’t have to be born to it, or be experts in anything, just to get there with our own child. No honest parenting expert out there got to be so, without paying their dues. But for most of us, it takes time. And it’s trickier if child and parent happen to be ‘born different.’¬† Child and parent can have different, inborn temperaments (from the latin for colouring‚ÄĒas in tempera paint.)¬† It’s quick, easy and enlightening to get a read on your own child’s temperament just by going to Prof. Sandee McClowry’s website at NYU’s School of Nursing:

http://steinhardt.nyu.edu/insights/

SATI Blank Profile - Cropped

You won’t have to give any identifying information and you’ll immediately get a parent-friendly, memorizable profile that looks like this, with X’s where your child’s¬†four basic temperament factors stand.¬†You’ll also strike a blow against the tyranny of psycho-logical tests that only clinicians can give and interpret.

–In truth, these tests are invaluable, when needed.¬† But, as parents, many of us feel empowered when we realize psychologists do NOT have a monopoly on guided insight. There’s simply no need to keep all of it behind the jewelry counter. McClowry’s book, Understanding Your Child’s Unique Temperament helps us take next steps.

Bonding is much easier when child and parent both have the same, inborn, foundation layers of their personalities. But how many times have you heard a parent exclaim: “OMG, what is with Kid-2, here?‚ÄĒ¬†My first one was so easy!” (Or the exact opposite.)¬† We simply come in different emotional flavours, right from the start.

OK, SO WHERE’S THE QUICK ‘N’ EASY PARENT TEMPERAMENT PROFILE? ¬†

Great idea!¬† But our temperament gets overlain with other layers of our person-alities, throughout life:¬† our own¬† childhood bonds with either parent; our social learning with peers; and finally, what we each build on top of all that:¬† our adult self-concept. Still, in our closest relationships, where we truly must be, or can’t avoid being our truest selves, our natural, inborn differences re-emerge. Stuff that our colleagues would never guess would push our hot buttons can be ridiculously easy for a family member to target if they’ve had too much stress (and for some reason, you seem to be part of it).

Bonds - Market Share- best resolution

Now, none of us would like to admit it, but we can find ourselves doing the exact same thing with our own kids when we’ve had too much stress. That can confuse both child and parent. But as parents, we can learn to bridge that gap. When we do, we show our child: Not only can I comfort you when you’re scared; not only do I too recall having that kind of disgusted, overexcited or stunned feeling, but even when I mess it up as your parent, I can still figure it out. (Or if you can’t, at least now you know what kind of help will actually help.)

Mother & Son - Pat-a-Cake

Through co-regulation, we show our child that growing up never ends. Self-regulation is the magic of how kids can then keep building, more independently, on that.

Ken McCallion, Registered, MA, CPsych Assoc

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WHAT, WE’RE MAKING BUZZWORDS AGAIN?

Chimp bottle-nurses tiger cub RTR2VPTI_RTR2PG91_640

[TORONTO] We are right to be leery of each and every new psychological term that tries to invade our lives.¬† We’re not about to fall for a repackaging of something we already bought.¬† Nor do we need to live up to some diabolical new yardstick for job performance, school progress or (worst of all) self-worth. And in truth, emotional intelligence (EI) is not new. It is simply a neglected part of ‘intelligence’ itself, even as IQ test-builder David Wechsler defined it, back in 1940.¬†¬† He meant this concept to include all abilities we need, to develop and to achieve, on our own terms.¬† But he never presumed to pack all that into one handy test kit. Others began filling gaps. Today, measures of emotional self awareness, other-awareness and problem-solving are much stronger predictors of school success, career success and social satisfaction than any cognitive test you name. Now, the ‘testing’ of EI is in its infancy, but the work thus far by Mayer, Salovey and Caruso on their measure dubbed the MSCEIT at least demonstrates proof of concept and seems to have some actual problem-solving usefulness in adults’s lives. (Building child and adolescent versions of any whole new type of test tends to be trickier and can take longer.) The MSCEIT ahs not yet reached the status of an ‘evidence-based intervention’ to which your clinician should conscientiously turn, every time you or your friend or your adult child comes in feeling tortured by interpersonal emotional miscommunication or just realizing they can barely name their feelings after living with them for 40 years.

 SO, CLEAR SELF-EXPRESSION IS IMPORTANT. NOT NEW!

True, but reptiles can do that.

panther chameleonWhat our cold-blooded cousins are not so good at is managing the complex interplay of each other’s emotions, in ways that lead to supporting child development and later, to achieving shared goals.¬† That’s a triumph of the mammalian mind. We can take the most unlikely,unpromising situations and turn them to the benefit of all parties‚ÄĒor not.

ASK ANY  SEASONED PROJECT MANAGER,

much-loved parent or happy classroom teacher.¬† In fact, ask the U.S. military. Using EQ-i testing to select recruiters saved the Air Force nearly 3 million dollars.¬† (Maybe you thought an idea that sounds so warm and cozy just had to be a feel-good campaign; a consultant’s boondoggle.)

HAVEN’T WE GOT RELIGION, FOR THIS?

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Good point. In fact, Daniel Goleman, a key author in the field, has heard from faith leaders across a broad range of traditions, that EI looks like one way to measure the human qualities

that their faith teachings and community inspire. Sadly, the EI of self-defense is just as important as community. So don’t blink.

WHAT IF MY ADMINISTRATION WON’T BUY THIS, MY CHILD’S TEACHERS CAN’T GET TRAINING AND I’M NOT FEELING SO AMAZINGLY ‘EI’ MYSELF?¬†

Then you would¬† be in good company with a lot of folks. But there is much you can do, on your own. If you already practice traditional, Indian yoga, traditional martial arts (such as Tae Kwon Do) or mindfulness meditation, then you’re probably already good at recognizing and managing many of your own emotions.¬† If you’ve gained ground in a psychological therapy that promotes recognizing of others’ emotions, and emotional problem-solving (such as emotion-focused therapy, child-parent attachment work or interpersonal therapy) then you have also increased your skills in perception of others’ emotions; your reach and depth of reflective thought; and your total range of responses from which you can wisely choose before speaking or acting.

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Book-clubbing a major EI author or two (see below) or reading-up with a trusted friend or your partner, then discussing how EI skills play out in your daily lives, can help. Journaling about situations at work or home, predicting outcomes of your response options, is invaluable. And remember:

SCHOOLS NEED VOLUNTEERS AS MUCH AS PARENTS NEED KIDS TO HELP AROUND HOME.

kindergarten hard at work - clipboardThoughtful, adult team-work in a ‘safe’ place where you are not being constantly evaluated, and don’t have to focus on parenting, is a great proving-ground for new EI skills. Most parent volun-

teers feel appreciated‚ÄĒhugely. And you may find an educator on a similar journey of growth.¬† And by the way:

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL)

is just school talk for teaching EI skills in the classroom. SEL programs improve student behaviour, reduce peer-on-peer aggression and raise academic achievement levels.¬† And EI level itself better predicts the student’s career trajectory than top marks.

THIS SOUNDS LIKE A LOT OF WORK.

psycho-babble muscle_brain colour adjustedIt can be, especially if one had a parent (or two) who had their own trouble cult-ivating EI skills of any kind. And some of us are just plain born with greater challeng-es around developing EI.¬† So-called ‘trait’ EI does not come naturally to all.¬† The great news is that over time, ‘skill EI’ can be learned by pretty much anyone. It can go a long way in compensating for lack of trait EI.¬† People who make progress in skill EI report stronger self-esteem, trusting bonds and work effectiveness.

POSITIVE LEADERSHIP =  LOADS OF EI

School TeamIf you’re struggling in a leadership role, bring forward, in your reporting relationship, the track record of corporate EI training. There’s no down-side;¬†just a startling¬†upside.

 

Business Case for Emotional Intelligence  http://www.eiconsortium.org/reports

Women in Leadership http://t.co/PgiBRNSPD3

EI predicted success levels in nursing school  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23660239

Social-Emotional Learning in Schools  http://www.edutopia.org/social-emotional-learning