Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment

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W. W. Norton & Company, Apr 23, 2012 - Family & Relationships - 272 pages
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An attachment specialist and a clinical psychologist with neurobiology expertise team up to explore the brain science behind parenting.

In this groundbreaking exploration of the brain mechanisms behind healthy caregiving, attachment specialist Daniel A. Hughes and veteran clinical psychologist Jonathan Baylin guide readers through the intricate web of neuronal processes, hormones, and chemicals that drive—and sometimes thwart—our caregiving impulses, uncovering the mysteries of the parental brain.

The biggest challenge to parents, Hughes and Baylin explain, is learning how to regulate emotions that arise—feeling them deeply and honestly while staying grounded and aware enough to preserve the parent–child relationship. Stress, which can lead to “blocked” or dysfunctional care, can impede our brain’s inherent caregiving processes and negatively impact our ability to do this. While the parent–child relationship can generate deep empathy and the intense motivation to care for our children, it can also trigger self-defensive feelings rooted in our early attachment relationships, and give rise to “unparental” impulses.

Learning to be a “good parent” is contingent upon learning how to manage this stress, understand its brain-based cues, and respond in a way that will set the brain back on track. To this end, Hughes and Baylin define five major “systems” of caregiving as they’re linked to the brain, explaining how they operate when parenting is strong and what happens when good parenting is compromised or “blocked.” With this awareness, we learn how to approach kids with renewed playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy, re-regulate our caregiving systems, foster deeper social engagement, and facilitate our children’s development.

Infused with clinical insight, illuminating case examples, and helpful illustrations, Brain-Based Parenting brings the science of caregiving to light for the first time. Far from just managing our children’s behavior, we can develop our “parenting brains,” and with a better understanding of the neurobiological roots of our feelings and our own attachment histories, we can transform a fraught parent-child relationship into an open, regulated, and loving one.
 

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Absolutely brilliant. Science is slowly but surely showing attachment theories to be proven true. Combine this book with your favourite ADhD, attunement, attachment, positive affirmation guide or A.A handbook and become an instant guru.

Contents

Foreword by Daniel J Siegel xi
1
Parenting Is a Brain Thing
11
The Five Domains of Parenting
60
Blocked Care How It Happens
81
Playfulness
102
Mastering Emotional Regulation
142
Making Sense Reflective Functioning
184
Appendix Seeking Help
221
Index
237
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About the author (2012)

Daniel A. Hughes, PhD, is a clinical psychologist who developed Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy. He lives in Portland, Maine.

Jonathan Baylin, PhD, a psychologist in private practice, offers workshops for therapists on integrating knowledge about the brain with psychotherapy.

Noted neuropsychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of California–Los Angeles School of Medicine, and executive director of the Mindsight Institute in LA. He is founding editor of the Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology.

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