A behavioral pediatrician reflects on the importance of understanding problems from a child’s perspective, with emphasis on “right brain” communication.
Based on composites of patients as well as personal mothering experiences, Gold introduces scenarios spanning the newborn to teenage years that are often resolved by examining context, underlying emotions and events in the parents’ lives rather than by fixating on controlling behavior. What matters is understanding “how to be” with one’s child rather than figuring out “what to do”; considering the meaning behind actions before reacting; and formulating healthy responses that acknowledge a child’s real needs while setting respectful boundaries. Gold readily admits this process will not come easily for everyone; it is most effective when primary caregivers have a strong support system of their own. The intersperses anecdotes on topics including colic, sleep management, attachment, separation anxiety, discipline and the development of individual identities with well-known studies from the fields of psychoanalysis, neuroscience and behavioral genetics (among others), citing John Bowlby’s attachment theory and Donald Wood Winnicott’s idea of the good-enough mother. Though parents may have experienced difficulty in their own childhoods, which could influence their current perspectives, they do not have to fall into the same traps as their own parents, and can learn more nurturing methods. Gold's simple, direct assurances, while not groundbreaking, would be especially useful for new parents in search of holistic guidance.
A panoply of hypothetical situations offering broad-based solutions.