Every child and every stage of stage of development presents new questions and mind-boggling challenges. Parenting advice is everywhere – on park benches, over family dinners, online or in your pediatrician’s office. Most times, a quick tip or a thoughtful insight will help, moving you or your child out of a stuck and recurring situation.
Then, it happens: the parenting challenge that shakes you to the core – that makes you feel like you’re doing everything all wrong or that there’s something wrong with your child. You can’t take your baby to activities like other babies. Your child is the one who never sleeps through the night. Your child is the only one you know who hits you or is a “nightmare” at school. Claudia Gold, M.D. has written the parenting book for parents who’ve tried everything and nothing works.
Keeping Your Child in Mind does not tell parents “what to do”; it tells parents “how to be” with their child to best support healthy emotional development. This book isn’t simply for parents who are frustrated and discouraged. Gold’s book is a powerful way to bring decades of developmental research and attachment theory to everyday parenting situations. It gives all parents the insight needed to understand the emotions that undermine best intentions and explains why there isn’t “one right way” in parenting.
Gold uncovers the emotional depth to the parent-child relationship and the secret to raising children with emotional resilience. Gold’s book reminds parents and educators that a child’s emotional life is the foundation for critical life skills like focus, self-control, executive function, empathy, risk-taking that equip children for lifelong happiness and success. For other reading on the topic, see Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky.
Gold recommends this 4 step process for “holding a child in mind”:
- Try “to understand the child’s behavior in terms of the child’s current stage of development”. Most challenging behaviors are predictable and normal. And if you aren’t quite sure, begin with the assumption that there is an explanation other than to drive you crazy.
- Practice empathy ”which involves both knowing in your mind and feeling in your body what another person is feeling…if you empathize with your child’s feelings, you can acknowledge your child’s experience, reflecting it back yet showing that while you know what your child is feeling, it is his feeling and different from yours. This helps a child take ownership of his emotional experience and develop a sense of his own mind.”
- “Holding a child in mind also means containing and regulating difficult emotions…In this way a child feels safe, protected from the intensity of his feelings…The idea is to contain the anger and frustration not make it go away”.
- “The most challenging component is to think about your child in this way without becoming overwhelmed by your own distress…To hold a child in mind, you must regulate and manage your own feelings, so they do not get in the way of being present with your child at moments of distress.”
Parents today are under enormous stress to get things right, to be confident and resourceful under pressure, to juggle work-family-friends-marriages with grace and dignity. And then the kids come along and create physical and emotional messes in thoughtfully defined, well-organized lives. Dr. Gold understands. Keeping Your Child in Mind can offer relief to parents feeling mildly frustrated by day-to-day parenting or help change a self-defeating parenting pattern. It holds the key to enjoying your child again and creating a satisfying family life.