I recently mentioned that I have been reading Dharma Parenting. I really want to share a little more about this approach as it was completely new to me and I have found it so compelling. The book is called Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child's Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment by Robert Keith Wallace and Frederick Travis. I initially read the kindle version but it turned out to be a book that I really enjoy having as a hard copy and being able to underline and highlight sections. I've highlighted a lot!
'Dharma' refers to a way of living that creates and supports physical and emotional balance, health, and fulfillment. Dharma Parenting is a unique approach that combines ancient and modern knowledge in order to raise happy successful children based on their individual brain/body type.
Dharma Parenting incorporates six parenting tools that apply to children of all age groups.
Discover your child's, and your own brain/body type.
Attention and appreciation.
Routines to improve family dynamics.
Manage meltdowns and cultivate better behavior.
Anticipate and adapt.
The first step is to discover your child's and your own brain/body type.
"Dharma Parenting draws on the time-tested knowledge of Ayurveda’s mind/body types and combines it with the latest understanding of how the brain is shaped by natural maturation and experience. These two factors— natural patterns of response and ongoing brain changes—contribute to what we call brain/body types, which are enormously useful for understanding your child’s behavior."
Ayurveda originated in India and is the most ancient system of natural medicine. Ayurveda defines physical, mental, social, and behavioral tendencies in terms of three main natures—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The Vata nature is sensitive, always changing, and creative. The Pitta nature is dynamic, strong-willed, and inquisitive. The Kapha nature is calm, steady, and kind. Everyone, including children, possesses some combination of these three natures, with one or two generally predominating.
The second step is to understand what triggers imbalance in your child.
"At any time of the day, your child's brain/body type can be either balanced or imbalanced, resulting in corresponding behavioral, emotional, and physical states. Understanding what triggers imbalance in your child will help you to understand what they're experiencing and how to help them with their reactions."
The third step is to follow the recommendations, tips, and practical suggestions to attain or maintain balance and achieve health, success, and fulfillment.
"By attending to your child's brain/body type - his natural tendencies and changing brain connections - you'll be able to better understand what your child needs to be happy and successful."
Dharma Parenting provides specific dietary, exercise, aromatherapy and parenting recommendations for each brain/body type. The recommendations are all practical and for the most part, easy to implement. Some suggestions relate to the child's temperature, sleep, routines, and how to handle specific circumstances. It's all valuable information.
I also love this little bit of information on handling meltdowns or to modify inappropriate behavior, I know it's a big concern for many parents. Dharma parenting recommends;
- Check in with yourself and your child.
- Comfort your child.
- Change your child's brain state.
- Choices: Give choices.
- Consequences: Enforce consequences.
- Coach: You're the coach.
The authors expand on each point and it all goes back to nurturing your child's brain development!
One of the reasons I love this approach is because it is so practical! I could immediately identify Caspar's brain/body type (he is Kapha) and I could use the suggestions straight away. I agreed with it so, so much and it helped me to understand his behavior. I was laughing and nodding as I was reading. I could make immediate changes to support him! Otis is proving to be more difficult to understand and I am still determining his brain/body type.
There is so much more to Dharma Parenting. There are sections on family dynamics, meditation and lots of case studies. Dharma parenting covers children from infants to young adults. It is also very supportive of the Montessori way, especially in relation to creating a safe and stimulating home environment, developing concentration, and independence.
"Research has shown that the children who do best at school followed their parents around when they were young and helped with daily activities as they grew older. For example, while mom cooked, they had their own bread dough and rolling pin. These children become more curious and more open to new experiences; they deal with conflict better and are happier."
"Your parenting style - the way you teach and discipline your child - is vital for the creation of self-regulating pathways in your child's brain... With positive and effective parenting, your children will become more independent and self-confident, and develop a sense of right and wrong that will help them resist negative peer pressure."
If you've read Dharma Parenting or if you use a similar approach with your children, I would love to hear about your experiences.