Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior

Psychoanalyst Laurie Hollman, PhD, helps parents understand why children do what they do.

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# Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior


kk: From the Parents Club, I’m Karsen Kolnicki

vp: And I’m Vincent Phamvan. This is a Quick Tip episode. Each week, we talk about how to become a calmer, more relaxed parent, and what the research has to contribute to help your family learn, grow, and thrive.


kk: You're not a bad parent if you don't enjoy "kid-friendly" places. If you have been at birthday parties, zoos, or play areas, and felt either completely bored or utterly overstimulated, you're not alone. Nevertheless, you pack your child's schedule with these activities and tell yourself it's what a good parent does. But, you don't have to always sacrifice your weekends for this. In this quick tip episode, we discuss the myth of child-centered activities, the developmental benefits of the adult world, and how parents can be stress-free while kids have fun.

vp: In Western culture, it's normal for kids to have their own activities. We have grown accustomed to giving children their own special activities on the weekends, such as kids birthday parties, kids museums, and playdates. Psychologist Suzanne Gaskins calls these activities "child-centered" because parents participate in these activities only because they have children. Contrary to popular belief, kids don't need their own activities, and outside of Western culture, they are virtually nonexistent. According to anthropologist David Lancy, "We're making some really bad assumptions about what's essential and what children need to thrive." A lot of our cardinal principles turn out not to be nearly as critical as we believe.

kk: Dr. Gaskins tells NPR that child-centered activities are not only completely unnecessary for kids to grow and develop, but in the long run, they do children a disservice. This disservice is that they exclude kids from the adult world. Dr. Gaskins has studied parenting and cultural development in Maya communities for more than 30 years. Through her qualitative and quantitative research, she found that exclusion denies kids the opportunities to learn all sorts of important skills, such as how to do chores around the house, how to cooperate with your family and how to behave appropriately in the adult world. "When you give children the opportunity to assume responsibilities, they will take it," Gaskins says.

vp: On the weekends, parents may be stressed about getting the errands they need to done, while also entertaining their children. You may be thinking 'how can I incorporate my kids into my adult life?' It turns out that the answer is pretty simple. Do chores, errands, hobbies, and social activities, and bring the kids along. These regular activities are more than enough "enrichment" for kids, says psychologist Rebeca Mejía-Arauz. The reality is that parents don't need to know how to play with kids. If we get kids involved in adult activities, that's play for kids.

kk: This is not to say it will be an easy transition, though. Barbara Rogoff, a psychologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz say that at first, kids who aren't accustomed to being in the adult world, might not behave properly in these situations. But they need to learn how to be a part of these things and society. With patience, parents can slowly introduce a child to new experiences, such as waiting patiently at a parent's doctor's appointment, joining mom or dad at work for an afternoon or sitting quietly in a religious service.

vp: Dr. Rogoff says that if kids are included in different situations, they will learn how to act. Kids are really good at distinguishing between how to act in one place and how to act in another place. So the next time you feel the burden of finding something to keep your kids entertained so you can do what you need to, consider bringing them along with you.


kk: That's it for this quick tip episode. I'm Karsen Kolnicki

vp: and I'm Vincent Phamvan

kk: We'll talk with you again next time.

In Unlocking Parental Intelligence, long-experienced psychoanalyst, Laurie Hollman, PhD, encourages parents to find the significance behind their child’s behaviors by becoming “meaning-makers.” Parental Intelligence is explained through compelling and empathic story-telling that answers parents’ questions: “Why do children do what they do? “ “What’s on their minds?” “How can parents know their child’s inner world?”

Through a clear five-step approach, parents discover the power and wisdom of a new parenting mindset that helps them learn what their kids think, want, intend, and feel. They see actions as communications. They are rewarded with open parent-child dialogue about the underlying problems hidden beneath the behaviors. As they problem solve, parents discover misbehaviors are not only meaningful but a catalyst to change.

Parents and professionals alike will find a new parenting approach from this invaluable book that will reshape families’ lives and guide them through all stages of typical and atypical child development. This accessible read enlightens, uplifts, and relieves while cultivating critical thinking on the part of parents and children as they wrestle with the common, and sometimes desperate vexations of family life. 

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