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Brain-based Parenting [Hardcover]

Daniel A Hughes , Jonathan Baylin
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 24 2012
In this groundbreaking exploration of the brain mechanisms behind healthy caregiving, attachment specialist Daniel A. Hughes and veteran clinical psychologist Jonathan Baylin guide readers through the intricate web of neuronal processes, hormones, and chemicals that drive and sometimes thwart our caregiving impulses, uncovering the mysteries of the parental brain. The biggest challenge to parents, Hughes and Baylin explain, is learning how to regulate emotions that arise feeling them deeply and honestly while staying grounded and aware enough to preserve the parent child relationship. Stress, which can lead to blocked or dysfunctional care, can impede our brain s inherent caregiving processes and negatively impact our ability to do this. While the parent child relationship can generate deep empathy and the intense motivation to care for our children, it can also trigger self-defensive feelings rooted in our early attachment relationships, and give rise to unparental impulses. Learning to be a good parent is contingent upon learning how to manage this stress, understand its brain-based cues, and respond in a way that will set the brain back on track. To this end, Hughes and Baylin define five major systems of caregiving as they re linked to the brain, explaining how they operate when parenting is strong and what happens when good parenting is compromised or blocked. With this awareness, we learn how to approach kids with renewed playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy, re-regulate our caregiving systems, foster deeper social engagement, and facilitate our children s development. Infused with clinical insight, illuminating case examples, and helpful illustrations, Brain-Based Parenting brings the science of caregiving to light for the first time. Far from just managing our children s behavior, we can develop our parenting brains, and with a better understanding of the neurobiological roots of our feelings and our own attachment histories, we can transform a fraught parent-child relationship into an open, regulated, and loving one."

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Brain-based Parenting + Principles Of Attachment Focused Parenting + Attachment Focused Family Therapy Workbook
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Writing with warmth and sensitivity, Hughes and Baylin traverse the great divide between neuroscience and practice, helping both clinicians and parents understand the brain mechanisms that may disrupt and block them from loving and supporting their children. Not only does the book promote better parenting, but it provides insights into the relationship between the therapist and parent. --Stephen Porges, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Brain Body Center, University of Illinois at Chicago, and author of The Polyvagal Theory (08/09/2012)"


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Overall a good book. April 19 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
The first few chapters, those that organize the neuroscience of caregiving, are excellent. Later chapters are more redundant for those familiar with Hughes' writings. Two challenges I had with the book were the disconnect between the first portion of the book and the later. The review of neuroscience is quite dense and referenced whereas the later portions take a different approach. Both portions are excellent, just different. Second, the book appears to present itself as for parents but bounces back and forth between addressing parents and therapists.

The information is excellent. I believe Daniel Hughes has one of the most informed and beneficial approaches to therapy and this book really organizes a number of his key approaches well. An excellent read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for non-professionals too! Feb. 16 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Plain language and easy information for parents just beginning to deal with brain-based parenting issues. Would recommend to family and friends to build their understanding of why parents need to do what they do.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will help parents to manage their stress levels and creatively overcome many of the common dilemmas of parenting July 20 2012
By GirlScoutDad - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a clearly written book on how to stay open, responsive, and flexible in parenting and how to avoid or repair parenting mistakes when they occur, informed by remarkable scientific progress in the field of "interpersonal neurobiology" - how our relationships are shaped by our brain's wiring, and how our brain functioning is altered by relationships.

What parts of the brain are involved in parenting? What happens when, due to anxiety, frustration, or stress, those parts of the brain shut down and the "defensive-protective" parts of the brain take over? What role do oxytocin, dopamine, and stress hormones play in shaping outcomes of parenting episodes?

The authors have identified 5 brain systems active in healthy parenting (Approach, Reward, Child-reading, Meaning-making, and Executive systems), as well as describing other brain regions activated in thwarted or "blocked" parenting, and a model for keeping the healthy, attentive, responsive, joyful systems active and open for business. The acronym for their model is "PACE" for Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, and Empathy.

There are many interesting insights, including the thesis that proper discipline isn't really responsible for well-behaved children, but rather that the maintenance of an active, empathic, attuned, intersubjective connection between child and parent is what truly regulates the child into positive behaviors, as a result of the child's efforts to maintain that secure, vital connection with the attuned parent. Even apart from the interesting (and painless) neuroscience, this manual is a surprisingly practical resource for how to stay on your parenting game and avoid "going limbic" when stressed or frustrated.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book: needs to be on the shelf of every clinician April 27 2012
By dr Anneke Vinke (NL) - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a clinician I would rate this book as one of the books every one working with parents and children has to have read.
Not only does it incorporate a great overview of current neuroscientific research also it puts in practical examples and therapeutic interventions.
Especially for families that do not have a same starting point like in adoption or fostering, processes in parenting like described in the book can occur easily leaving parents and children facing disruption. This book addresses the underlying neuro biological issues in a very easy to read way and does not leave it to that. The book ends with strategies to develop the parenting brain. Great practical work. Good scientific foundation. I really like to thank the authors for having written this book and sharing their insights with a big audience.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No More Fight-or-Flight Parenting April 28 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Star Assignment: 4/5
Title: No More Fight-or-Flight Parenting

Brain-Based Parenting is a book written by Clinical Psychologists Daniel A. Hughes and Jonathan Baylin. Daniel Hughes received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Ohio University. He soon began specializing in the treatment of children experiencing psychological problems secondary to childhood trauma and attachment disorganization (a type of insecure attachment in which a child exhibits extreme behaviors during separation from a parent - perhaps falling to the floor and even rocking or hitting themselves) relating to child abuse and neglect. He later decided to develop attachment-focused treatment because traditional methods were not proving very helpful in his experience. Dr. Hughes has written other books such as: Facilitating Developmental Attachment: The Road to Emotional Recovery and Behavioral Change in Foster and Adopted Children (2000), Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children (2006), Attachment-Focused Family Therapy (2007), Attachment-Focused Parenting: Effective Strategies to Care for Children (2009) and It Was That One Moment...: Dan Hughes' Poetry and Reflections on a Life of Making Relationships with Children and Young People (2011). Jonathan Baylin Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist who obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from University of North Carolina, and his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is the former President (and current affiliate) of the Delaware Psychological Association and is a member of the American Medical Association.
This book did a nice job at explaining how certain behaviors from our children can initiate reactions in us that we initially cannot explain (i.e. intense feelings of anger or resentment). In addition, it suggested that if our parents often responded to us in anger during our childhood, we can tend to view our children as disobedient or disrespectful even when they are not intending on it. Having an awareness of our emotional states and their potential origins can be helpful in breaking cycles that interfere with relationships - not just with children but with partners and friends. While I had already been somewhat aware of how parenting styles could be "passed from generation to generation" due to learned behaviors as children, I learned a lot about the physiological responses that become tied to a memory or experience.
As a parent of a seven year-old boy (I also have a fourteen year-old nephew, and nieces ages eleven and seven), I was able to relate to some of the cases presented in the book. However, many examples provided were about parenting teenagers. The "take home" message seemed to be about neutrality and keeping lines of communication open, even with your child or teenager being blatantly disrespectful towards you. Due to the fact that my child has not yet reached that time period, I cannot personally relate to these cases or the methods of approach recommended. I do know that it would be difficult for me to always be the apologetic "bigger person" even when feeling abused. The book makes a point to remind parents to subdue their initial reactions in order to prevent blocked parenting.
Although this is a book is targeted towards parents, it can be usefully applied to relationships of any type. However, what sets this book apart from conventional parenting books is that it provides a scientific basis for the advice. For example, it details how therapists may interact with patients to demonstrate ways to stop or de-escalate defensive reactions that could result in "blocked" care - a term frequently used to describe what results when any of the five basic parenting circuits are interfered with (in such a way that we are unable to be attuned to ourselves or our children). The five circuits are the approach system, reward system, child reading system, meaning-making system, and executive system.
Baylin and Hughes outline the cores aspects of research dealing with how life experiences affect the brain development of children and the neurobiology of parenting (specifically the brain processes that support caregiving). This book discusses the mechanisms of the mammalian caregiving brain, guiding the reader through the processes that enable an individual to sense, interpret and response effectively in situations many parents face at some point in their journey of parenthood. As a student graduating next year with a Bachelor of Science in biology (am currently taking a neurobiology course), I was interested to see what level of detail this book would encompass and how it relates to the many neurobiological processes that do occur but are not often initially thought of when it comes to parenting style.
As was explained in the beginning of the book, its purpose is to further the knowledge of the audience using layman's terminology. Therefore, it does a very good job of laying an initial explanation and then referring back to it using a wide variety of examples. I will outline some of the key ideas that are presented in this book, in a language matching that of the book. Though there were a lot of facts to remember and it required some referring back to the initial descriptions, I thought the authors did a very good job at keeping the complication to a minimum.
This book does a great job of providing readings with an overview of the processes involved in parenting. For example, the limbic system is in constant communication with the gut, lungs and heart. Specifically, the pre-frontal cortex forms a dual-level parenting system involving "bottom-up" (automatic, emotion-driven aspects) and "top-down" (problem solving, emotion regulation and reflection) circuits. These brain processes integrate parental feelings and thinking in an adaptive and flexible way. The cingulate, insula, orbital cortex and brain chemicals (such as oxytocin, dopamine, adrenaline, vasopressin and prolactin) all play a role in a mammalian ability to care for their offspring. The amygdala mediates rapid assessment of safety or threat. The hippocampus helps in stress management, creating rich memories and putting parenting experiences into perspective. The insula-anterior cingulate-von Economo neurons system helps parents to feel empathy and intuition. The anterior cingulate bridge helps parents to stay connected to theirs and their children's feelings and to think at the same time.
This book refrained from excessive technical jargon and included illustrations of the various brain regions at several points. In addition, it outlines the connections between physical brain structures and the chemical activity involved in the regulation of our responses (including those of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems). I would have enjoyed delving into the chemical aspect a bit more but I do understand the complexity of neurobiology and agree that too much detail may have taken away from the core messages from the authors. I would recommend Brain-Based Parenting to parents and professionals alike, in addition to anyone who may be interested in gaining a deeper understanding about our interactions with the outside world.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best books on parenting July 26 2013
By Kathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is one of the best books I have read on parenting. It is not an easy book to read, because it is so well researched, and it's very deep. I had to read a little at a time and stop. But I can't think of another book that so well captures the feel of what a healthy attachment is, how to create one, and why it is so important. It's worth the extra effort.
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing... and I am not even a parent! March 3 2014
By Kathryn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have benefitted from this book immensely. It has helped me understand what went wrong in my own childhood and how I perceive threats especially in times of stress. If I become a parent, I can see how I was parented will impact my own children and how to pevent passing on the disorder to future generations. I am also able to have more compassion for my own parents as well as myself as a result of this book. Things make sense - they add up and I have a sense of hope that I can grow and improve my "brain" and how I feel through the recommendations of this book. I am so grateful to the authors for writing it!
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