As she thoughtfully breaks down a parent-child interaction, she integrates practical guidance based upon attachment theory and brain development.
For example, in “Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life,” Markham presents a scenario where a 3-year-old girl kicks her younger sibling.
It only takes a few minutes to move my nervous system out of a “fight, flight or freeze” response. I always come back.”Verbal or physical violence in a family is like a jagged, sharp rock. For those of us who grew up in homes haunted by expressions of violence, it’s important to remember that anger itself is not the problem.
According to Markham, when we are in this primal state, even our children can appear like “an enemy” to conquer. I stretch, shake my hands, roll my shoulders, close my eyes and pray for a love greater than my limited understanding to guide me. In our family, when we are mad, we take deep breaths. Certainly, all parents get exasperated, overwhelmed and mad.
When we stay connected and set limits with empathy, children learn not only how to regulate their feelings but also how to develop positive connections to their parents and/or siblings.
As they grow, they become “the kind of [people] we need more of in the world.” Twelve-year-old Lisa loves school and strives diligently for good grades.
Decades later, he confided: “I have vivid memories of my mom coming at me, screaming.
She would corner me and slap me repeatedly with both arms flailing.
At work, he programs complex algorithms into computers with clear precision. Yet at home, Jeffrey is often at a loss when it comes to navigating the moods and energies of his preschool-aged children – this is especially true when they fight.
They constitute the theoretical framework found in Markham’s first book, “Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting,” and her soon-to-be-released “Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life,” which is slated to hit the stands on May 5.
As long as there is no immediate need to stay present and safeguard my son’s physical well-being, I find a quiet room to mindfully breathe, remind myself of the virtue of patience and sometimes cry. And if we don’t know how to smooth the edges of this stone, we pass it along to our children.
As parents, we always have the power to calm a child’s storms – or to worsen them – with our own response."For Jeffrey, his 3-year-old son’s resistance triggered a cascade of deeply stored emotional and physiological responses.
Not only did Jeffrey want to make his son apologize, he wanted to punish him with physical violence for his defiance. It’s impossible to stay empathetically connected to anyone in such a state of mind.
Markham notes that young children often hit “no matter what parents do.” The prefrontal cortex responsible for self-regulation is in the earliest stages of development, after all.