Why the Relationship Matters

By Abby Bordner

Parents are bombarded with tips about where to focus their attention in order to accomplish certain3f7620d goals. If you want obedient kids, focus on exerting control over them. If you want smart kids, play Mozart to your pregnant belly. If you want talented kids, enroll them in various extracurricular activities. If you want them potty trained by age two, learn their elimination cues. It can quickly get overwhelming and you’ll feel the pressure to do everything perfectly and right NOW or your chance is gone.

I carefully chose my business name when I decided on Relationship Based Parenting. I wanted to allow for some freedoms for each family. I don’t have any tricks to get your kids to behave or do what you want them to do. In fact, I believe parents are the best judge of what their kids need and how to instill the values that are unique to your own family. I do, however, provide neuroscience and child psychology based information that helps parents focus on the one best teaching tool you have, the relationship between you and your children.

In the first three years of your child’s life, 85% of brain development happens. Within the context of the relationship, your kids will learn the social and emotional skills for all future relationships. This is fertile ground for teaching, learning and growing. Even prenatally, your child is experiencing the unique chemical and hormonal releases related to the mother’s experience of pregnancy.

Attachment theory in child psychology looks at the unique patterning that is created in the primary relationships with your newborn. The attachment pattern is laid in the brain during the first 12 months of life outside the womb. That’s before your child is even verbal! The baby’s brain makes neuropathways related to what happens when he cries, how often does he get comforted and fed and how consistently is the baby responded to in a loving way. We look at the way both parent and baby’s attention gets focused when the baby needs something.

Babies are born with the biologic need to be in relationship. Their mere survival depends on it. Their eyes can focus easily on a face that’s approximately 10 inches away from them, the distance of the mother’s face when breastfeeding. They cry and scan with their eyes when they are left alone. Their brain releases a stress response when they aren’t being held. As soon as they are responded to, their emotions become regulated.

In fact, children up to age 7 years are primarily dependent on co-regulation to manage difficult emotions. Co-regulation is the need for a safe and caring adult to help calm down the heightened emotions of a child. That’s why our children come running to us with their arms outstretched when they’re scared, hurt, sad or uncertain. Once safely in our arms, they being to co-regulate, breathe a little deeper, calm down and rest their heads on your chest. They need to connect with their parent in order to manage difficult emotions.

This is an important thing to consider when your children are having temper tantrums, experiencing difficulty at school or otherwise in an upset or agitated state. The safety of a secure relationship is what they need to calm down, develop resources and begin to see solutions to the problem. Helping our children learn to understand their emotions, calm down to a regulated state and start accessing the power of critical thinking and problem solving can only be done in the context of a healthy, loving relationship. This is why the focus of my business is teaching parents about their best teaching tool and how to build healthy, empathic relationships with all the important people in their lives.

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