From Your Partner’s Point of View

This is an excellently written article, and a concept well worth contemplating.  It is something I think a lot of our parents attempted to teach us as children, but likely often failed at modeling themselves.

What does this have to do with gentle parenting and respect of our children?  Everything.  If we can teach ourselves to live in harmony with one another, seeing the other first, each in turn, than our children will learn the same. Furthermore, we are then also able to see our children’s world through their viewing portals, instead of our own or that of our expected and imposed view of their world.

One who has this skill and routinely and consistently employs the practice makes harmony automatically around them and in their home.  This “being able to walk in another’s shoes”, or “see through the lens of another”,  decreases frustration instantly, especially in either an intimate relationship or a parent/child relationship.  With children, this way of being fosters a natural and mutual respect, an appreciation, an admiration (and it will be bidirectional, by the way), and has the tendency to calm them, encourage and build them up, decrease power struggles and childhood related aggravations, and generally keeps daily life more peaceful.

If you consistently allow yourself to see through your partner’s and child’s view of their world, truth and trust is also a natural byproduct.  In cases where one individual is struggling, those struggles can become apparent and support can be given.  In the case where one individual harbors negative feelings toward the other, those feelings can be explored safely, together.  And in the case where one individual is not being cared for in the manner which he or she needs to thrive, this lacking can be acknowledged and through awareness, compassion, and attentiveness, love can begin to flow freely.

Ultimately, we will enhance our marriages and friendships, and in so doing, our children will not only flourish in the love and harmony of their homes, but they will go on to have a stable emotional self that can regenerate and recreate itself in their futures, and the futures of their own children and relationships.

S O U R C E

Remember when you first fell in love with your partner and how the world was so rosy and your partner was simply wonderful? And how you felt deeply connected and understood? Ahhh, the joys of the early part of relationship.
What we really want is to be truly understood. And to be really seen by the person we care about. To find someone who can read our minds and meet our needs. To find true love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime. To be loved unconditionally by our partner. We want love especially when we are angry and wounded by our partner. We want to stay in that euphoric space of new love. To get the ‘Happy Ever After’ promised by fairy tales.
But despite our deep longing to be connected with the one we choose to be with, Happy Ever After rarely happens. Most often, when one partner is angry, the other person becomes angry back or shuts down. During conflict, the two partners disconnect from each other. The relationship suffers as people become disillusioned with their partner. The two people may even secretly start to look for exits from the relationship. Common exits are addictions, silence and withdrawal, increased fighting, self-blame and depression, anxiety and threatening to leave the relationship.
The main purpose of a committed love relationship is to become a responsible loving adult and complete unresolved childhood issues says Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want–a Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love You Get–a Guide for Singles. Hendrix’s approach, more than any other current marriage-counseling model, helps couples move their union towards a Conscious Relationship.
Hendrix fashioned the name Imago Therapy to illustrate how we fall in love with the image that we put on another person. Imago is a Greek word for illusion. We get caught up in those euphoric brain chemicals that the rush of new love brings. You have heard that love is blind? It is true. We don t see the real person, imperfections and all, but we put our illusion of what we expect in a romantic relationship on the other person.
Later, when the bloom goes off the romance, we have to deal with what the person is really like. And often we try to exit the relationship. Energy that is needed for the relationship building is put elsewhere. Ask yourself, ‘Where do I put my energy when I am upset with my partner?’ What exits do you leave open to deal with your pain?
Imago Therapy teaches major tools of communication and connection to bond couples together.’The job of each partner is to create a Conscious Relationship where you learn to hang on and reparent your partner. Blaming, criticizing, withdrawing and pouting are the common distancing defenses in relationships. The big challenge for a happy relationship is to stop using these destructive defenses! We can replace these negative defenses with actions that keep us in partnership even when time get rough.
‘We all got wounded in relationship as children with our parents and siblings,’ Bonnie Brinkman, Imago Therapist, explains.’The healing can only come in relationship. We need our partners for this. The old mom and dad stuff becomes the template for selecting a partner. We choose people to be in relationship with that represents the best and worst of our parents. The psyche holds an unconscious agenda to select the right person who can help us heal. Our partner, with all of their frustration about us. has the blueprint for our healing.’
The heart of Imago Therapy is to use the relationship to mend the pain of being hurt and disappointed in childhood. Brinkman continues,’ We are the walking wounded. Our partner holds the blueprint for our healing and growth. The elegance of this process is that we heart flutter over only a few people in the entire world. We fall in like with some of them and then find a person to fall in love with and hook up with. We unconsciously pick the perfect partner to help us do the growing up work. God, the Universe, Fate or whatever you call it, helps us zero in on that perfect partner who will push our buttons so we can get on with our work. There are no accidents why we get together with the person we choose out of all the millions of potential partners. The one we choose is someone who is familiar to us–we have met aspects of him or her before in our mother and father. That sets the stage for doing the work of growing past our present defenses.’
Chemical Soup Equals Love?
We are chemical beings as well as psychological beings. The peptides–that feel-good stuff that goes on in the brain that we call euphoria happens when we fall in love. The chemistry goes off when we find a person who can help us heal our childhood pain. That s why love is blind, we are so infatuated with the high emotional chemical soup that we are in that we overlook the warts of the partner. We fall in illusion!
Falling in love creates the Symbiotic Stage of relationship where the people are joined at the hip symbolized by ‘You and I are One.’ Too often this turns into and ‘I m the One and you need to do what I say, resulting in big time anger and pain.’ Too often this stage turns into in self absorption by one or both of the partner with ‘If you are don t see things the way I do, then I must punish you so I can avoid re-wounding myself.’
The high of the peptides wears off after about six months–we are not meant to remain in this chemical rush forever. The romantic stage lasts about six months in most relationships then wears off to settle down. As the high runs its course, then the Power Struggle stage kicks in. The Power Struggle Stage is illusion also. Our illusion is that we are the nice guy. Our partner, that wonderful one in the Symbiotic Stage, is now the enemy. Suddenly the partner s warts start to look REALLY warty! Things that used to be cute in their partner now grate on our nerves. The couple loses their feelings of being connected. Each feel hurt. Conflict happens. Big time Power Struggle! Distancing sets in.
The war of wills hits big time. Insistence on having one s own way and struggle becomes the order of the day. When the stuff really hits the fan, each partner runs to their arsenal of fighting tools–anger, distancing, domination and submission. Oh yes, those dysfunctional ways of dealing with threat that we learned from our parents! Criticism, blaming, sarcasm, withdrawal, and giving in with silent martyrdom are the defenses of vying for control. We do the grownup stuff that was modeled to us in childhood from those people who raised us.
Sound familiar? In the Power Struggle stage, the partners become stuck in trying to tell the other what to do and gathering data to make the other person wrong, at least in their own eyes. Conflict sends grownups, back into the defenses of their little child. There can be symmetrical wounding as each person knows the trigger points of the other and goes for them pulling forth the defenses they learned as a child. In power struggles, nobody wins. But as the saying goes from The Course in Miracles, ‘Would you rather be right or happy?’
So Imago Therapy tells you to hang in and learn about yourself. You can put your energy into distancing or you can put it into building intimacy. Keep your energy for the really important things in life–deep connection and growth. Close the Exits. Use your energy to transform your relationship! The ‘No Exit’ policy makes you become creative in working things out. According to Brinkman, there are four options that happen in relationships where there are unresolved power struggles:
1. Adios! Start the cycle over. Find someone new with whom to move through chemical soup into power struggles.
2. Have a silent divorce. Stay together for religious or financial reasons or fear of being alone and become roommates with passion for life atrophying.
3. Become the Bickersons and fight over everything, constantly injuring each other emotionally.
4. Start to cooperate with the unconscious agenda and use the volatile situations for growth. Learn techniques to stay connected during conflict and practice reconnection. This is the ‘becoming a grownup stage’ called The Reality Love Stage.
Making Your Relationship Conscious
Everyone wants a Conscious Relationship, but few couples achieve this high level of connection. So what is real in Conscious Relationships? How do we get there? We have to move on to the next stage–The Reality Love Stage of relationship. In this stage, we are presented with many challenging opportunities to use each other to put the childhood pain to rest. Like everything we have a fight–there is another growth opportunity. But of course it is an opportunity only if we choose to make it one. Some couples never reach this stage, switching partners when fighting get too toxic.
A new set of relationship skills and tools are needed to get the Reality Love Stage. Moving past the Power Struggle stage, the couples begins to realize that not only is their job to grow up but their other job is to help their partner grow up. Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that help both partners feel heard and understood by the other. It provides a process to travel the path of creating a spiritually conscious union.
Intentional Dialogue–A Way to Keep Connected During Arguments
What creates intimacy? What we really want is to be heard and feel safe with our partner. Hendrix s technique of Intentional Dialogue is a way of relating to your partner when he or she is upset by something that you did. It is a process that keeps the contact going even in times of feeling threat and stress–IT KEEPS THE COUPLE CONNECTED EVEN WHEN THEY DISAGREE! Intentional Dialogue gives the partner the love and attention they need when they most need it.
Intentional Dialogue is a process of communication that you and your partner can learn to create an atmosphere of safety. At times, it can be exasperating. But using this tool of communication with your partner really helps him or her feel safe and listened too. It works if it is done right to recreate that sense of connection that you felt when you first fell in love. Intentional Dialogue gives you a process of obtaining The Five Freedoms that Virginia Satir, pioneer in family therapy talked about:
The FREEDOM to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be.
The FREEDOM to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should.
The FREEDOM to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought.
The FREEDOM to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission.
The FREEDOM to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rock the boat.
Sound good? Well you can get it! You and your partner can find the Happy Ever After, after all.
But . . . it takes learning a process of active listening and hard work. It takes resolution from both partners to do Intentional Dialogue when friction starts to build up. It takes being able to be vulnerable and stomach some uncomfortable feelings. It takes you out of your comfort zone into really being REAL! Ouch! It requires listening and talking from the open heart; now that is scary stuff. The pay off is that you and your partner become a team actively working though the rough spots in your relationship. It makes you conscious in your relationship. You can actually feel closer with your partner after an argument when you stick to the dialogue.
And the technique works in all relationships, not only in romantic relationships. It even works with adolescents! Hendrix and his wife recently wrote a book on parenting, Giving the Love That Heals.
What we all really want is to be understood and accepted for who we are. To really live in Conscious Relationship, in my opinion, Intentional Dialogue is the best tool for keeping love alive. Having someone really listen to you is as close to unconditional love we can get in our lifetime. Empathy is the greatest gift you can give your partner when he or she is hurting. It helps a person be seen and feel totally understood. The childhood wounds no longer are so deep when we are truly heard and understood.
A recipe for having a Conscious Relationship equals commitment, learning powerful, how-to-stay -connected techniques during times of stress and darn hard work. This formula is doable for those determined to be happy in relationship. The Imago Therapy Tools help you keep the love you want and become a responsible, loving adult secure in the knowledge that you are truly seen and heard.
For more information read the books, Getting the Love you Want: A Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love you Get: A Guide for Singles by Harville Hendrix. To find a therapist trained in Imago Therapy, do a web search.

Mother-Toddler Separation

I am in tears… of validation.  I cannot put into words what reading this article has done to me.  But my smile might be enough, and my tears might communicate the rest.

Yes.

Thank you.

Thank you.

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Mother-Toddler Separation

by Dr. George Wootan, M.D.
Author of Take Charge of Your Child’s Health


I’m going to open up a big can of worms here, one that gets me into as much trouble as my thoughts on weaning: mother-toddler separation. Imagine for a moment, that you are at the grocery store with your six-month-old. She starts making hungry noises, and you look down and say reassuringly, “I’ll feed you in half an hour, as soon as we get home.” Will she smile and wait patiently for you to finish you shopping? Absolutely not! As far as your baby is concerned, either there is food now, or there is no food in the world. Right in the middle of the grocery store, famine has struck!

Babies and toddlers, up to about the age of three, have little concept of time. To them, there are only two times: now and never. Telling a toddler that Mommy will be back in an hour, or at 5:00, is essentially the same thing as telling her that Mommy is gone forever, because she has no idea what those times mean.

Let me submit to you that the need for mother is as strong in a toddler as the need for food, and that there is no substitute for mother. When he’s tired, hurt, or upset, he needs his mother for comfort and security. True, he doesn’t need Mommy all the time, but when he does, he needs her now. If he scrapes his knee, or gets his feelings hurt, he can’t put his need on hold for two hours until Mommy is home, and the babysitter – or even Daddy – just won’t do as well as if Mommy was there.

So, yes, this is what I’m saying: A mother shouldn’t leave her child until about the age of three, when he has developed some concept of time. You’ll know this has begun to happen when he understands what “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” and “this afternoon” mean, and when your child voluntarily begins to spend more time away from you on his own accord.

Of course, if you know that your child always sleeps during certain times, you can leave her briefly with someone while she naps. If you do this, however, the babysitter should be someone she knows well, since there is no guarantee that she won’t choose this day to alter her schedule and wake up while you’re gone. This could be traumatic for her if the person is someone she knows, and doubly so if the babysitter is a stranger. It is important that you make every effort to be available to her when she is awake and may need you.

I realize that not separating a child from his mother for the first three years of life may be difficult. Living up to this presupposes that the family is financially secure without the mother’s paycheck, and, unfortunately, this is not a reality for some people. I would not argue that a mother who must work to support her family is doing less than her best for her children by working. However, I believe that many women return to work not out of necessity, but because they (or their spouses) want to maintain the two-income lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed. These parents need to do a little soul-searching about what they really need and not sacrifice their child’s best interests.

If you must leave your child for several hours a day, there are some things you can do to try and compensate for the separation. One of these, of course, is nursing until the child weans himself. Another issharing sleep with your child until he decides he is ready for his own bed. If you have to spend 8 hours away from your child, make an effort to spend the remaining 16 hours of each day in close physical contact. That extra effort will go a long way toward helping him feel secure an develop a healthy attachment with you.

In our family, we have found that many events that would require leaving our baby or toddler at home are the ones that we don’t particularly mind missing. We also have found that because our children have their needs attended to promptly, they are happy and secure, and we are able to take them to most social gatherings. I don’t mean to suggest that you’ll never encounter any problems, but generally, you’ll find that if you take care of your child’s immediate needs by holding him, nursing him, and loving him, he’ll be a pleasure to have around.

George Wootan, M.D. is a board-certified family practitioner and medical associate of La Leche League International. He and his wife, Pat, are the parents of eleven children and the grandparents of twenty-one. Dr. Wootan has practiced medicine for 33 years with a focus on pediatric, family, and geriatric care and chronic illness. He speaks nationally on the subject of children’s health, healthy aging, nutrition, wellness and Functional Medicine.

Online Gathering Place for Gentle Parenting

Here you go – now let’s build this so that those in need will find a safe place to seek.

Facebook Community – Gentle Parenting With Love and Respect

Gentle Parenting With Love and Respect

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Hand Slapping, Exploration, Confidence: An Important Understanding

S O U R C E

SLAPPING HANDS
How tempting it is to slap those daring little hands! Many parents do it without thinking, but consider the consequences. Maria Montessori, one of the earliest opponents of slapping children’s hands, believed that children’s hands are tools for exploring, an extension of the child’s natural curiosity. Slapping them sends a powerful negative message. Sensitive parents we have interviewed all agree that the hands should be off-limits for physical punishment. Research supports this idea. Psychologists studied a group of sixteen fourteen-month-olds playing with their mothers. When one group of toddlers tried to grab a forbidden object, they received a slap on the hand; the other group of toddlers did not receive physical punishment. In follow-up studies of these children seven months later, the punished babies were found to be less skilled at exploring their environment. Better to separate the child from the object or supervise his exploration and leave little hands unhurt.

I love this.  It’s brief, allows one to contemplate (which I am now), and doesn’t condemn or judge.  Bravo!

I know the urge… She’s grabbing it again (insert object of interest) and it either scares you, annoys you, or is in direct violation of whatever you just told her not to touch.  What is your instinct? You know that if you slap her hand, it will sting and therefore she’ll pull her hand away and theoretically stop touching whatever you want her to stop touching.  Gotta love instant gratification.  But if it were my daughter, she’d just touch it the moment I turned my back anyway, so why bother.

Now, the NGJ method would interject here that if I had smacked her hand hard enough, she’d have learned her lesson and would remember well enough to not touch whatever it was again.  This brings two thoughts to mind:  First, violence begets violence. Second, let’s just say the item I don’t want her to touch is my coffee mug.  Ok, so I slap her hand hard enough and frequently enough that she learns she is better off not touching it (because she doesn’t like pain, nor does she like the hit to her self confidence).  So what happens in a few years when I ask her to do the dishes and the only item that never gets tended to by her is my own damn coffee cup.

Hum… now what.  I mean, it’s not like I can say a word about it to her.  I have destroyed her confidence in handling my coffee cup, made it off limits across the board by physically punishing her for touching it, instead of working with her intellect so that she can learn the dangers, and now I want her to chip in and help wash the thing.    See my dilemma?

Expand that to an entire collection of items that we categorically define as off limits for babies and toddlers.  We instill confusion, a lack of confidence, hypocrisy, and an innate sense of “wrong” for things that are completely benign to any human of an age of comprehension.  This makes no sense.  If the child is too young to be educated on what or why not to touch the item, just remove the object from within their reach and possible interest until they are old enough to comprehend!

That said… In our case, as I stated above, my daughter will receive the instruction to not/stop touching something and then the moment I am not looking, she will graze the item with her fingertips in defiance, while quietly watching to see if I notice.  She’s pushing for control here. She’s testing her ability to control herself and her environment. She’s not trying to control me, but she is being defiant.  And you know what, I have noticed a pattern with this defiance.  IF I have instructed her not to touch something without educating her as to why (this includes the education going no further than it being my desire to have her leave something alone, no other logic involved), then the defiance is typically present  to one degree or another.  IF however, I have educated her as to why she should leave something alone and not touch/pick it up/etc., even if that education is simply that the item does not belong to us (but does specifically belong someone else, including me, excluding her) and therefore must only be explored by her eyes, she typically will not bother it.  And if she does, once reminded of why she shouldn’t, she usually dismisses her interest and self corrects.  Yes, she uses her own judgement and chooses to abstain from the temptation, of her own accord. Crazy, huh.

I think I can probably say that I have slapped her tiny little hands a total of a half dozen times in her entire life.  Each and every time it has been out of personal impatience, annoyance, and personal/internal frustration.  Once again, it’s me needing a physical release of a negative emotion caused by the interaction with my daughter and her independent and immature self. Yippee for me, I solved my concern with instant gratification for myself, no education for my daughter, and an example of violence and selfish response for her to ponder and remember.  Well then. I have also demonstrated my own laziness and impatience. I’m doing good.

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Alternately, I can take the responsibility upon myself while she’s too young to comprehend and simply remove items from her reach or where she is even aware of their existence (I do not believe in negatively tempting children). Then,  after she reaches an age that she is able to comprehend reliably, I can instruct and educate her on why and what to abstain from touching or playing with. I can remind her as necessary, and if defiance is the reason for the reminder(s) being necessary, I can employ other techniques to get my point across (like if she won’t leave something of mine alone, I will simply not leave something of hers alone that she wants me to – and/or not allow her to have it until she makes the connection, which usually takes about 2 minutes).  And in the event she simply chooses to ignore and not make the connection, it’s usually bed time or time to change venue/activity and assert gently that she must acknowledge the importance of what I am imparting to her.  These times almost always correlate with fatigue, or fatigue.  Again, my responsibility to remedy and have the wisdom and sensitivity to manage properly.

There is one caveat: In the event that your child is reaching and millimeters away from an object that will severely injure and/or scar them physically or psychologically, and you have no time to react in any other fashion, then and only then would I personally condone the use of a harsh slapping away motion (this is different than a hand slap).  This quick reflex may cause a bit of a sting if it ends up being enough of a snap, but chances are that if it’s necessary it’s because you only have a split second to respond and save your little one’s hand, mind, or other body part.  This is a protective move, not a punishing one.  This sort of response is not out of annoyance but fear and desire to preserve the well being of the child.  I hope I am clear.

In My Silence

Contemplative Indignation

I spoke with a friend tonight about time outs. Now my wheels are spinning.

I haven’t had a chance to write in a long time due to some personal changes, uprooting, and a general, massive directional modification in (my) life’s path.  That said, I am reminded this evening of the value not only to myself, but the potential value to others, for me to put thoughts to paper – forgive me, but is there a technological synonym, really?   Yeah, didn’t think so.

I am too tired to write much tonight, save the few comments I have already responded to, but I will give you a bit of info on the topics I’ll tackle in the coming days/weeks as the muse inspires and allows. And you all know my muse is a toddler, right!!

Topics to be explored (your feedback, input, data, etc., is always encouraged):

  • Ostracism (Time Outs), Rejection, Humiliation of Children in the Name of Discipline and Punishment
  • Curbing Insolence, or Perhaps Appreciating It
  • Your Child’s Worldview
  • Engaging – Not Just Monitoring Your Child (Anyone see the Incredibles??)
  • Bedtime (No, Not Mine, the Kid’s… Ok, Mine Too)
  • Peaceful Coexistence vs.  Harmony

So, until I can think straight and don’t see little blurs darting in/out of my peripheral vision…

Good night.

Resources: Understanding Ostracism, Timeouts

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/805746/positive-discipline-why-timeouts-dont-work

http://www.psychwiki.com/wiki/Ostracism

http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/04/social.aspx

http://www.powells.com/biblio?isbn=9781572306899

http://www.mothering.com/discussions/archive/index.php/t-922731.html

http://books.google.com/books?id=M0flM4dgpDUC&pg=PA12&lpg=PA12&dq=timeouts+ostracism&source=bl&ots=NNNExUmWFw&sig=CqcXM8QwYW_Em3HQSdQbxsmn_-8&hl=en&ei=Se-OTL6JLYSdlgfovZm0Dg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

List goes on… I’ll add more as we go.

Beyond Spanking, Beyond Training: A Look At Our Littlest Minds

Something that has hit me like a wrecking ball in all this research I’ve conducted in the last few weeks is an awareness of how what I do, EVERYTHING I DO, as far as my child is involved, literally molds and shapes her very existence. Mentally, physically, psychologically, emotionally.. every single aspect of her being is vulnerable to outside experiences, and will be throughout her entire life, but never more so than these early years when her brain is actually physically still developing the foundation it will function from until her final breath.

For example, previously, when my husband would depart for the office and my daughter would be upset and ask for him to come back, I would tell her she was ok, Mama was with her, and that Papa would return shortly.

One day, while saying these very words, I actually focused on her face, and her body’s response to what I was saying.  She was angry.  With me!  She knew Papa would eventually return, but she was NOT ok!  She was upset.  She was sad, and she was experiencing the anxiety and discomfort of having her Papa leave her presence.  She did not need me to point out the obvious, nor did she need me to invalidate her feelings by trying to reverse or counter them.  She needed my empathy and comforting.

Now, when my little one expresses a feeling or emotional response to something, I will ask her for more details and talk to her about it as if I were also a two year old that is not capable of understanding what an adult does.  I will hold her, tell her I miss her Papa (or whatever) too, and ask her what I can do to help how she feels.  Notice here, I do not ask her how I can help her feel better, because it’s likely she doesn’t need to feel better, but needs to feel the impact of the emotion that she is experiencing, and work through it as her mind dictates.

This goes back to experiencing life through the eyes of the child. Now, I have even more reason to do so, not only to prevent my little one from feeling dis-valued or simply “humored”, but now I am aware of what chemicals are released upon stress (especially in forming brains) and how these chemicals affect the mind and its development.  This is a HUGE responsibility, if you ask me.  We’re not only talking about this person’s childhood, nor just her future as a functioning adult, but we’re talking about her in her entirety.  ALL that she is.. I have the responsibility to guarantee that nothing I do to or with, or around her, is going to cause her mind to be affected negatively or to force it to function in a diminished capacity.

Do you feel the impact and weight of that?  I’m still on the floor… it’s been about 10 days.

When I shout because I loose my temper, my daughter’s brain responds and floods certain areas with certain chemicals, and after time, if this keeps happening, these areas of the brain will not develop as they should. (If you want the science behind this, ask me.)

When my husband and I argue – same principle, only even worse, because her logic places her in-between as a peacemaker.

I cannot fathom intentionally subjecting my child to any form of trauma.

Let’s define trauma –  Take a look at the dictionary’s definition, and read this article

–noun,plural
Pathology.
a.  a body wound or shock produced by sudden physical injury, as from violence or accident.
b.  the condition produced by this; traumatism.
Psychiatry.
a.an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.
b. the psychological injury so caused.
c. An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption.

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Below is an excerpt from an article that discusses, in relatively simple English, what happens when children are experienced to situations they perceive as threatening.

Many of the articles and stories presented on the NGJ website (examples to follow, but just glance at the topics on the right and you’ll find plenty) are very descriptive and explain how their method causes the child to experience fear, survival responses, and dread.  They also discuss what to do when your child attempts to evade you coming after him to spank him – track him down and do it harder – they will learn to not try to escape.  If logic were being used instead of terror and power tactics, though the child might not like the natural consequences to their actions, they’re not going to have the same responses as they might to the knowledge that they’re about to be struck, and humiliated, and that they have no choice but to submit because if they don’t, they know their “punishment” will just become that much worse.

The Neurobiological Responses to Threat

When a child is threatened, various neurophysiological and neuroendocrine responses are initiated. If they persist, there will be ‘use-dependent’ alterations in the key neural systems involved in the stress response. These include the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. In animal models, chronic activation of the HPA system in response to stress has negative consequences. Chronic activation may “wear out” parts of the body including the hippocampus, a key area involved in memory, cognition and arousal. This may be occurring in traumatized children as well. Dr. Martin Teicher and colleagues have demonstrated hippocampal/limbic abnormalities in a sample of abused children.

Another set of neural systems that become sensitized by repetitive stressful experiences are the catecholamine systems including the dopaminergic and noradrenergic systems. These key neurochemical systems become altered following traumatic stress. The result is a cascade of associated changes in attention, impulse control, sleep, fine motor control and other functions mediated by the catecholamines. As these catecholamines and their target regions (e.g., amygdaloid nuclei) also mediate a variety of other emotional, cognitive and motor functions, sensitization of these systems by repetitive re-experiencing of the trauma leads to dysregulation in many functions. A traumatized child may, therefore, exhibit motor hyperactivity, anxiety, behavioral impulsivity, sleep problems, tachycardia and hypertension. In preliminary studies by our group, we have seen altered cardiovascular regulation (e.g., increased resting heartrate) suggesting altered autonomic regulation at the level of the brainstem. In other studies, clonidine, an alpha2 adrenergic receptor partial agonist has been demonstrated to be an effective pharmacotherapeutic agent, presumably by altering the sensitivity of the noradrenergic systems. Studies by Dr. Michael DeBellis and colleagues have demonstrated other catecholamine and neuroendocrine alterations in a sample of sexually abused girls. These indirect studies all support the hypotheses of a use-dependent alteration in the brainstem catecholamine systems following childhood trauma.

Implications of Trauma-related Alterations in Brain Development

All experiences change the brain – yet not all experiences have equal ‘impact’ on the brain. Because the brain is organizing at such an explosive rate in the first years of life, experiences during this period have more potential to influence the brain – in positive and negative ways. Traumatic experiences and therapeutic experiences impact the same brain and are limited by the same principles of neurophysiology. Traumatic events impact the multiple areas of the brain that respond to the threat. Use-dependent changes in these areas create altered neural systems that influence future functioning. In order to heal (i.e., alter or modify trauma), therapeutic interventions must activate those portions of the brain that have been altered by the trauma. Understanding the persistence of fear-related emotional, behavioral, cognitive and physiological patterns can lead to focused therapeutic experiences that modify those parts of the brain impacted by trauma.

Our evolving understanding of neurodevelopment suggests directions for assessment, intervention and policy. Primary among these is a clear rationale for early identification and aggressive, pro-active interventions that will improve our ability to help traumatized and neglected children. The earlier we intervene, the more likely we will be to preserve and express a child’s potential.


Proof of Abuse: Using Science to Prove How This Harms Our Children

I’m going to start a series on proving abuse.  If the NGJ group continues to declare they are doing no harm, I intend to prove them otherwise.

I wonder if there are any families out there that have used but no longer employ the tactics this group promotes, who would allow their children to be tested for neurological differences as a result of these methods.

Here’s an opening article:

Source
During early, intense, and repetitive trauma, there is an adaptive disengagement: a dissociation from any meaningful assessment of fear, or pain, or horror. Because to be fully present for it–and to process its implications-would quite simply overwhelm the brain.

This dissociation may help one survive the initial traumatic situation but-because information about the threatening experience has remained unformulated–it cannot be reflected upon or learned from.
Those who study brain development and physiological responses to trauma have discovered fascinating things about the way that the brain formats abusive experiences. The perceptual–affective flood engendered by a traumatic encounter-the Shock and Awe-is configured mainly as an autonomic reply to danger; a fight or flight response. Basically this means that incoming information is coded in the most primitive areas of the brain without any accompanying linguistic elaboration. People are literally scared speechless (Elin, 1995), rendered incapable of creating a narrative line to understand what is happening to them. Regions of the brain that are implicated in the ability to reflect upon mental contents, first by attaching emotional significance to them and then by representing intentions symbolically, are especially hard hit. Permanent hormonal and neurochemical changes, even deformations of neuroanatomical structure may follow intense or prolonged exposure to threatening stimuli (van der Kolk, 1996, p. 220).

Bessel van der Kolk writes, “The experience is laid down, and later retrieved, as isolated images, bodily sensations, smells and sounds that feel alien and separate from other life experiences. Because the hippocampus has not played its usual role in helping to locate the incoming information in time and space, these fragments continue to lead an isolated existence. Traumatic memories are timeless and ego-alien.” (van der Kolk, p. 295).