Photo by Rachel Hadiashar
Children are great imitators. We may notice this most often when our children repeat back our negative behaviors, reactions, or things we say, including swearing. We may never even realize we respond a certain way, until we see the response in our children.
Our modeling is the #1 way children learn. In parenting it's "what we do, not what we say" that counts. It is our actions that teach our little ones.
Also, have you ever noticed how when you're having a bad day, your children also seem to be having a bad day as well? Part of this phenomenon has to do with the negative lens or intent we are seeing the world with when we're having a bad day. And this is also mirror neurons at work.
Overview of Mirror Neurons:
The concept of mirror neurons was developed from studies with monkeys.
Scientists discovered that the same neurons in a monkey's brain fired when the monkey picked up an object and when the monkey watched another monkey pick up the object. The monkey's brain is having nearly the same experience whether it does something, or is watches someone else do it.
Huge right? Scientists are studying mirror neurons in people, and the way we understand mirror neurons is every changing as on-going research explains how mirror neurons help us "survive and thrive in a complex world."
In order for your brain to adopt another's action as your own, you must be able to understand another's persons point of view. Neuroscientists believe mirror neurons can help us understand consciousness, empathy, and interconnectedness-- as well as the power and responsibility of not only our actions, but the intentions behind our actions. Mirror neurons also prove that feeling, not logical thought is the basis of our interactions with others.
While some scientists state that mirror neurons only are responsible for reflecting back actions, other scientists say mirror neurons are also responsible for how we reflect back one another's feelings and thoughts.
Mirror Neurons in Parenting
Some research has shown that our children are wired to reflect back our emotional and mental states. Dan Siegel has said that are children are more like sponges, soaking up our thoughts and feelings. One scientific article said that children are literal mind-readers. Children's ability to attune in this way to their parents and caregivers ensures their safety, and the survival of the human race.
Parenting is nearly all conscious and unconscious behavioral responses rooted in thoughts, feeling, and intentions that form the basis of our daily lives, interactions, and the foundation of our children's inner worlds. The
In this video, Dan Siegel explains how people have an ability to understand a pattern of repeated actions, the implications for the actions, and ultimately the intention behind the actions. All this occurs, for most us, automatically and is the inner workings of the brain that explain human behavior.
From this pattern of understanding other's behavior, the intentions behind the behavior, and the broader implications of this behavior, the brain then creates a neural map of this pattern. This neural map is the basis for how children learn both how to be compassionate, caring, thoughtful individuals or how we teach children to be mean, uncaring, and violent.
Children's behavior and character (and our very own behavior and characters) is all based on the intentions and actions from caregivers, and from the previous generation of parent-child interactions.
When mirror neurons in parenting are positive and pro-social, humanity- and the individual child- is on track to have a happy and healthy life from the inside out. And when mirror neurons teach children violent, anti-social, or negative behavior, it's truly sad and threatens the survival of the human species. The good news is that even the adult brain can change throughout the life span, and we can always rework and rewire negative patterns originating in our childhood. This creation of positive patterns for ourselves and our children is the hope for humanity, and the essence of my positive parenting programs.
Hi friends, I write from the heart to tell my life story, and the story of those in my neighborhood called life. Research shows that our children's emotional & mental health is contingent upon us parents being able to tell our life story, or "coherent narrative." This is my coherent narrative, my life story in the making, with some of what I love in life too. My goal is to share my life in a way that is real, uplifting & positive- sometimes serious, sometimes fun. In my practice, I inspire parents to empowerment through reclaiming our life stories and learning respectful discipline. My work is my offering to our children- our future. Wishing you all a happy family!