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Summary: Discipline Without Drama with Dr. Dan Siegel

Dr. Dan Siegel is the New York Times best-selling author of several renowned child development books including The Whole-brain Child (regularly listed as a must-read for all parents) as well as a psychiatrist and a professor at The School of Medicine at UCLA, amongst holding many other prestigious titles. This was a live talk in May 2020 in association with Little Humans Parenting. I find Dr. Dan Siegel's work quite interesting, and his parenting books offer many ways of using scientific research that support findings of the brain, to support your parenting practices as per your child's developing brain. 

Summary of the key points are below:

  • Giving your child a time out can be either a benefit or a negative. Doing it with hostility and anger, can be detrimental. However, simply explaining to your child gently that they will get a time out to reflect on their behaviour when they behave badly, allows you to teach your child to reflect on their behaviour and puts a space between impulse and action, which is very important for a child's brain and helps them learn how to self-regulate.
  • Discipline means to teach - a disciple is a student not a prisoner. Discipline should not mean punishment.
  • The takeaway from the field of Attachment Research shows that the best predictor of how you turn out as a kid is how your parents have an understanding of how their own childhood impacted their development. In other words, parental self-understanding is the best predictor of how a child's attachment turns out (attachment refers to how secure a child feels).
  • Secure attachment isn't a guarantee of anything but optimises the chance of your child doing well. 
  • In his book, Developing Mind, there are 3 key findings:
    1. Self-understanding is the best thing you can offer to your child
    2. It doesn't matter what happens to you in your life, you can work on this anytime in your life and change how your brain works (research backs this up as well as a case study with a 90-year old man
    3. Well-being depends on integration (integration is the process of combining many different sources of information together in the brain)
    • Every disorder ever studied has involved an impairment of integration. 
    • The Whole-Brain Child Book is all about how to cultivate integration in the household. 
    • The basis of social and emotional intelligence is putting a space between impulse and action. Actions like a 'Time Out' with your child, if done in the right way, can really help develop this awareness for a child.
    • Both the left and right sides of the brain govern different things. For example, the right side is related to facial expressions, tone of voice, posture, gesture, non-verbal signs. Whereas, the left side is about logical reasoning, cause and effect, details. As a parent, you need to support both hemispheres of the brain.
    • Parenting from the inside out - he recommends to start with this book for young kids
    • Brainstorm - he recommends parents of teenagers to start with this book

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