In the early years of life, a child's brain develops rapidly. During this impressionable period, exposure to the right environment is essential to ensure adaptive development and general wellbeing. Because this is such a critical period of brain development, it's important for parents to be aware of the relevant neuroscience research. Understanding this developmental process can aid parents as they navigate the challenges of parenthood.
The Whole-Brain Child by Daniel J. Siegel was written specifically to help parents develop everyday parenting strategies based on neuroscience. Along with Dr. Allan Schore and Dr. Lou Cozolino, Siegel is responsible for developing Interpersonal Neurobiology (IPNB), which is an interdisciplinary field that explores the relationship and connections between the mind, brain and each other. By learning the foundations of IPNB, healthcare professionals and parents alike can discover the scientific framework and multi-disciplinary tools to support whole-brain child development. Many of these same principles have been incorporated into The Whole-Brain Child.
Principles of Whole-Brain Child Development
In his book The Whole-Brain Child, Siegel discusses the science behind brain development in childhood. Specifically, he discusses the "upstairs brain," which is the part of the brain responsible for balancing emotions and making decisions. This part of the brain is not fully developed until the mid-twenties and is under heavy construction in young children.
Siegel also discusses the significant differences between the right brain and left brain in young children, which causes them to be driven more by emotions than logic. Siegel goes on to offer practical strategies parents can use to help foster healthy brain development in their children.
Parenting with IPNB
Although The Whole-Brain Child is a helpful read for any parent, you don't need this book to use IPNB to your advantage. IPNB is a revolutionary approach to understanding the interconnectedness between brain, mind and each other that posits that health is a factor of integration, which he defines as a process involving differentiation and linkage. Under this model, integration is essential for an individual's well-being. Healthy brain development and function requires the linkage of different mental processes to one another. With an IPNB perspective, parents are better equipped to respond effectively to common challenges like temper tantrums, for instance, and knowing when to use logic or emotional regulation approach. Not only this, but parents feel less frustrated as their compassion increases when they understand their children's behaviors in light of brain development.
If you are interested in learning more about how to use IPNB to help parents and families thrive, enrolling in Portland Community College's Foundations of Interpersonal Neurobiology program can help. This program is designed for healthcare professionals, including social workers, therapists, naturopaths, nurses and more. The goal of the program is to teach the foundations and principles of IPNB, as well as providing strategies students can use to apply these principles in both their personal and professional lives.
Whether you are working as a psychotherapist or working to become a more effective parent, understanding neuroscience and interconnectedness between brain, mind and relationships can be a powerful tool for anyone interested in health. Contact PCC today to learn more about the Interpersonal Neurobiology program.