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Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment

Overview

An attachment specialist and a clinical psychologist with neurobiology expertise team up to explore the brain science behind parenting.
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 ...

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Brain-Based Parenting: The Neuroscience of Caregiving for Healthy Attachment (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology)

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Overview

An attachment specialist and a clinical psychologist with neurobiology expertise team up to explore the brain science behind parenting.
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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Editorial Reviews

The Huffington Post
“Brain-Based Parenting is one in a W. W. Norton series on interpersonal neurobiology, launched by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology are among the most exciting new fields about the brain and behavior in a long time. This book does sound justice to these subjects and to the evolving way that science can (and must) inform and assist everyday human endeavors, including, in this case, parenting.”
From the Foreword by Daniel J. Siegel
“Our authors serve as empathic and wise guides through the intricacies of both detailed brain circuits and helpful parenting strategies. We, the fortunate readers, are taken on a powerful journey that illuminates ways of improving our efficacy as parents and enhancing our pleasure in the experience itself.”
Thomas W. Phelan
“Hughes and Baylin offer an exciting, concrete, and practical new model for examining how parents behave. Their approach offers a straightforward way to maximize parenting effectiveness. This book will help you wire your parenting brain so you can not only take good care of your kids, but also enjoy them!”
Stephen Porges
“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.”
Daniel J. Siegel
“Our authors serve as empathic and wise guides through the intricacies of both detailed brain circuits and helpful parenting strategies. We, the fortunate readers, are taken on a powerful journey that illuminates ways of improving our efficacy as parents and enhancing our pleasure in the experience itself.”
Journal of Psychiatric Practice
“The authors . . . offer salient real-world vignettes that will resonate with parents and clinicians alike. . . . [H]ighly recommended reading for anyone hoping to get a taste of the exciting new field of interpersonal biology and enrich their knowledge of parenting.”
The Huffington Post
Brain-Based Parenting is one in a W. W. Norton series on interpersonal neurobiology, launched by Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. Neuroscience and cognitive psychology are among the most exciting new fields about the brain and behavior in a long time. This book does sound justice to these subjects and to the evolving way that science can (and must) inform and assist everyday human endeavors, including, in this case, parenting.”
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Daniel A. Hughes, PhD, is a prominent attachment specialist and private practitioner. President of the Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy Institute, he consults and gives trainings in the U.S. and abroad on issues of attachment and family therapy. He is the author of Attachment-Focused Family Therapy, Attachment-Focused Family Therapy Workbook, and Attachment-Focused Parenting.

Jonathan Baylin, PhD, a psychologist in private practice, offers workshops for therapists on integrating knowledge about the brain with psychotherapy.

Daniel J. Siegel, MD, is an internationally acclaimed author and award-winning educator and is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is a co-investigator at the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and is co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. His books include Healing Trauma, The Healing Power of Emotion, The Mindful Brain, The Mindful Therapist, Trauma and the Body, Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology, and more. He lives in Santa Monica, California.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Foreword Daniel J. Siegel xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Parenting Is a Brain Thing 11

Chapter 2 The Five Domains of Parenting 60

Chapter 3 Blocked Care & How It Happens 81

Chapter 4 A Caregiving Formula: Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity, Empathy (PACE) 102

Chapter 5 Mastering Emotional Regulation 142

Chapter 6 Making Sense & Reflective Functioning 184

Chapter 7 Quick Review: Nine Strategies to Develop the Parenting Brain 213

Appendix Seeking Help 221

References 225

Index 237

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