What Is Oxytocin Parenting?

4 Elements of Oxytocin Parenting

What's in your parenting behavior plan? I know we all have goals for our children's behaviors — what we'd like to see from them — but how about YOUR behaviors? Do you have a plan, with specifics that are motivating and fulfilling to you? Think about these things as you read and make some notes. What changes do you want to make in YOUR behavior?
— David Durovy


Oxytocin Parenting is an approach that focuses on helping your child's brain to develop a strong oxytocin response, that is, the ability to love and trust appropriately. There are four elements of Oxytocin Parenting:

1)    Relationship:
Parent from a place of calm and connection. We're social mammals who need skin-to-skin contact and emotional connection at every age. Through a process called co-regulation, you teach your child learn to cope with stress and to connect with love through your own behavior. This approach may require you to do some work building up your own coping and connection skills. When you're angry, stressed out or depressed, for example, it's really hard to be open to your child's needs.

   2)    Influence: Show, don't tell. Instead of trying to change your child's behavior by telling him what you want him to do, guide him through your own actions. This guidance includes modeling behavior such as getting up on time or saying thank you, as well as letting him watch you respond to stress calmly.Oxytocin Parenting

   3)    Understanding: Parent the stage, not the age. When we're stressed, we regress to an earlier stage of emotional or cognitive development. This is especially true for children. When you understand your child's developmental path, you can learn to give your child what he needs right now, not what you think he needs based on his physical age.

   4)    Flexibility: Give what's needed in the way it can be received. Your child's unique communication style may make it easier for her to take in information or emotional meaning in some ways more than others. Moreover, what works with your child on Tuesday may get the opposite response on Wednesday. Yes, this is frustrating. But the ability to alter your communication and action until you connect is essential.

Put these in your parenting behavior plan and let me know how it goes.
Choose Love,
B


Want to Learn More? Get Bryan Post and Susan Kutchinskas e-book for only $1.99 Kindle format on Amazon

How to Get Unstuck

How to Get Unstuck - Serious parents who are committed to making personal changes in their lives, but need some help, here is a very special resource, a weekend intensive called Taking It Lightly. One of our parents has been involved for a few years with this program and has written to all parents particularly those with traumatized children of her exhilarating experience. I am familiar with this as my previous wife, Patricia Clason created it and has been running it for over 20 years -- impacting the lives of thousands of families.

Although based in Milwaukee Wisconsin, she does offer the course in other cities as well. Take a few moments to read this expression of how this parent's life has been empowered due to this experience.

Taking It Lightly made it possible for me to (finally!) do what Bryan Post had been urging me to do all along--be fully present to my children in deep love without judgment or criticism.  It's very simple:  I CANNOT be compassionate to my children when I am beating up on myself.  They know this--they are always watching me to see how safe I am for them emotionally.  Since Taking It Lightly, it is much easier for me to love myself just as I am, so it is easier for me to love my children just as they are.  I'm more fun now, too, which is all they ever wanted me to be.

In addition to taking the course in 2012 and reviewing it in 2015, I also volunteer to staff as many Taking It Lightly weekends as I can.  The difference in my relationship with my children when I come home in the evenings is amazing!  They are cuddly, so much less afraid, letting me hug them and even offering to hug me!  They can tell I've been bathing in an environment of unconditional love.  I now experience profound moments with my daughter when she looks warily into my eyes, searching for traces of judgment and criticism, and finds none, only love and acceptance.  Then she relaxes.  This would never have happened before Taking It Lightly. --  Love, Lia

If this touches you in a way that says, "I want that too!" contact Patricia to see how you can accomplish this. I can pretty much guarantee that you will never be the same - and your family will love you all the more for it.

Have a calm and peaceful day!

David

Become a Master Parent: Your Training Begins Now by Bryan Post (Pt.1)

Yoda bwKevin motioned for me to come into his room and he spoke in a hushed tone, “Did you get my text?”“Huh,” I replied, “Probably not, my phone is charging”.He said, “Can you check and see I just sent it?”“Just tell me what it is Kevin, we don’t need to go through all of that,” I stated while standing a few feet away looking at him.“Well I didn’t like what Kristi said about me taking a shower. I don’t like that. If you guys think I’m not clean you can just tell me to leave,” he stated with quiet seriousness.A few minutes earlier after Kevin had exclaimed that he was going to go take a shower, Kristi exclaimed, “Great! Kevin’s gonna take a shower!” She did it in a playful way not uncommon to how any of us might respond to one another, but for Kevin it was embarrassing. Truth be told, we care very little about if and when he takes a shower. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had to tell him that he needed to. Now some of the other adolescent boys we’ve raised… absolutely! I would exclaim, “You stink, go get your butt in the shower, now!” But with Kevin, I’ve never had to do that.Mindfully placing my hand on the side of his arm, I gently stated, “I’m sorry that hurt your feelings and I’m sure Kristi did not mean for it to be hurtful, but thank you for telling me and I’ll be sure to let her know that you don’t like it.”He responded, “Okay, yeah I don’t.”“Okay brother,” I said “No worries”.

Six months ago to a year that little experience would have led to days, weeks, maybe even months of silent treatment, agitation, and veiled threats to leave by packing bags and stomping around the house in frustration.

Later that evening Kristi apologized and all was well. She even remarked, “Wow, Kevin took that so well, and it was only minutes. What attributed to the change?

Of course constant consistency, reflection, awareness, mindfulness, and flexibility make a difference, but what is the real reason? What’s changing in his brain? How does a child Brain Illustrationwho has grown up on the streets learn to trust? He rarely does unless he has an opportunity to develop one very important response and that response is what we will discuss today.

For the past many years I have been going on and on about oxytocin being the next revolution in parenting, education, and mental health. It is in fact, a revolution in life. It is the primary ingredient in the relationship factor. In this discussion I will present to you oxytocin from the Post perspective and explore many of its implications for parents, professionals, and all members of our society.

Understanding Oxytocin

In her groundbreaking book The Chemistry of Connection, author Susan Kuchinskas writes, “Love not only makes us happy; it makes us healthy too. By means of oxytocin, love heals”. For centuries recognized as the hormone responsible for helping women to contract during labor, and subsequently to foster bonding between mother and child, oxytocin is quickly becoming acknowledged for its role in numerous aspects of human behavior.

When I first learned about oxytocin ten years ago it only struck me as a very important hormone for infant/mother bonding. It was not until being interviewed for The Chemistry of Connection and later reading the book that the full implications of this powerful hormone began to dawn on me. In fact, it wasn’t until I was interviewing Susan Kuchinskas for the Inner Circle that I began to put the possibilities in place.

Oxy quote 1I am going to take the liberty of sharing with you how I see this hormone applicable to parenting and relationships. Oxytocin is considered the “anti‐stress” hormone. Every child with a background of trauma, especially pervasive emotional and environmental neglect suffers from a lack of oxytocin response. In a post‐shell (my version of a nutshell!) when the amygdala (the brain’s fear receptor) is triggered and releases stress hormones, these hormones pass through the hypothalamus. Let’s think James Bond for a moment. Theoretically, the stress hormones are supposed to be messengers delivering an important briefcase of secret documents that need to be responded to. So as the amygdala sends the stress hormones through the door with the secret documents the hypothalamus is supposed to send its messengers, molecules of oxytocin, through at the same time in the opposite direction. The oxytocin messengers, discreetly take the reaction and respond, thereby delivering the documents calmly and safely to their destination and communicating what important things are needed to save the world (your bodymind).

In the brain of a child with early optimal care, the parent substitutes as the secret agent of the hypothalamus, while teaching the child the lessons of responding to the call of the amygdala. This training occurs from infancy and perhaps even in utero. When the baby is hungry the amygdala sends a signal and because the baby has not yet been taught, the teacher (parent) intervenes responding with their own soothing, thus teaching the child a vital lesson. Such lessons occur thousands of times during optimal parent/child interactions from the earliest stages of development. From this perspective the child learns fairly quickly and is able to begin handling the assignments passed off from their own amygdala. This leads to a child capable of self‐regulation in the face of mild and moderate amounts of stress. For example, when the child comes of school age he is capable of going to school, interacting with strangers, learning, and coping with an overwhelming environment for an entire day because he has learned how to respond to stress rather than react to it. In this manner, the early teaching has helped the child establish a useful and efficient coping system for tolerating mild to moderate levels of stress. It’ll be many years before the child is able to handle severe experiences of stress and even then will require the support and cooperation of other loved ones and support figures.

On the other hand, our eighteen year old grew up for the most part alone on the streets. Prior to the streets he endured years of abuse and deprivation. He never had an effective teacher for his hypothalamus. He was left alone trying to figure out how to be a secret agent. Rather than having a teacher to support his hypothalamus thus teach his oxytocin response when he would cry or was hungry, it was ignored. Rather than having a teacher to provide love, safety, and security at night when he was alone and scared and his amygdala was sending out stress messengers, he could only cope the best he could. When he was abused and more messengers were sent out with top secret documents attempting to alert the rest of the world to the dangers occurring, he had no one to intervene on his behalf. As you can imagine if you or I had to learn the ways of being a secret agent on our own, we would be in trouble!

You see the reaction and the response are not in conflict. The stress reaction and the oxytocin response are not out to harm one another. They are both good guys. They want the best for their world (the bodymind system), however if the reaction is too strong, it’s prolonged, overwhelming or unpredictable, it doesn’t partner very well. If the teacher/parent has not been effective or present to train the child appropriately, it does not recognize the signals given by the amygdala. It just continues to wander around the train station waiting for some great signal to call it into action. And when it finally does get called into action it’s out of shape and tires quickly, again leaving its partner to do all of the work. Eventually with no one to accept the delivery the partner learns to work harder and gets stronger trying to save the day. As it so happens this is not in the best interest of the world (bodymind) because the amygdala, hence stress reaction, becomes too strong and begins to be detrimental to the other individuals it is supposed to be in partnership with; like the hippocampus (responsible for short‐term memory), the orbitofrontal cortex (responsible for social and emotional functioning), and the pre‐ frontal cortex (responsible for rational thinking and processing). When this happens the fear/stress reaction becomes overwhelming and then the entire world is in jeopardy.

The outcome to circumstances such as the above, are children that have an almost imperceptible ability to trust others. Trust includes the ability or willingness to be led, taught, held, comforted, kissed, hugged, or more. Additionally, it leads to an inability to feel safety and predictability in relationship with others, thereby causing heightened sensitivity, paranoia, aggression, or emotionally shutting down. Once the system has learned to react to stress with minimal barriers to soothing it, it is not uncommon that survival, thus havoc, become the sole drive of the child. (To be continued…)

Become a Master Parent: Your Training Begins Now by Bryan Post (Pt.2)

Teen Agers Still Spitting?

Someone asked about teens spitting, and I thought it would be good to share this when viewing all behaviors - Why do teens spit? Because they are no different in that moment than a two or three year old who has learned to spit as a defensive measure. If you've noticed the time they are most likely to spit is during times of peaked stress and dysregulation. No different in this manner than many animals in the animal kingdom that spit to ward off a threat.

The teen years don't have to be that tough and certainly not anything you need to fear. But because of the way we were raised we will be challenged to do something different. It all comes back to understanding, for action without understanding will only lead us back to confusion.

When I was a teen, I needed someone, anybody to pay attention to me emotionally, to be present and engaging. I needed my dad to tell me that he was proud of me. That he was impressed by my independent work ethic and drive. And that he looked forward to seeing me successful. I needed my mother to be affectionate, supportive, and nurturing and I also needed her to hug me and tell me how proud she was of me; to ask about what I was thinking, focusing on and where I was headed. Not in a judgmental way but in love and curiosity. It is all about the relationship and not about judgement.

The Art of Curiosity by Sherrie Boles-Rogers

Sherrie Boles-Rogers, author and creator of the website The Parenting Heart, posted a 'to the point' article recently that spoke directly to our parents.

Do you yell?  Do you put her in time-out?  Do you lecture, threaten, punish?  All of the above?  Do you casually push your cart past

Sherrie Boles-Rogers

Sherrie Boles-Rogers

the melt-down in the cereal aisle pretending you don't know the small creature writhing about?Trust me, I know how difficult it is to keep yourself together when you child is "misbehaving" or "losing it."  Not too long ago, it wasn't uncommon, while Krogering, for the manager to open a special check-out line just for me in order to expedite getting me and my screaming banshee out of there!

But what I have found over the years is that the strategies listed above have several unintended results. Namely, (a) they tend to exacerbate the problem instead of solve it (especially with a strong-willed child), (b) they don't help the child think about what they've done...or why...or how they might solve the problem differently next time, and (c) they don't help parents feel competent and effective".

Instead, she suggests, is to "develop the art of curiosity:  What's the Feeling (WTF)?  What's the Need (WTN)? Developing honest curiosity about your child's emotional life leads to greater understanding and a stronger connection." For more of Sherrie's parenting wisdom visit her blog.

The End. Not.

Bryan often talks about process versus outcome. Outcome is the end. Process is ongoing. It never ends. This process is observable, knowable, and predictable. The more you observe, the more you know and the more you can predict. The more you can predict, the more you can be proactive in your parenting approach. I know many of us feel that our children are unpredictable. But really… once the David Journalbehaviors, the meltdowns, the disruptions are over, do they not leave a trail of logical steps that having known all this, we could have easily done much to prevent many of these occurrences?

The process with our special children may never end. But that is not a life sentence for them or us. It is merely an observable fact and the more you observe the more you know and hence the more you can predict and prevent. Many parents like us fear that our children will never grow up, never leave the house, or in some way shape or form always be our responsibility. This is a real fear. This does not mean that it is a real fact. But again it is a real fear.

Our children truly are gifts. The trick comes in appreciating and being open to what they have to offer us. There are many of us that just cannot stand anymore, cannot take it anymore, are done with it, through with it and over it. This is not our children’s fault. To blame them for our reactions is to take on the victim role, and the only way to win is to become a victor. In order for us to be a victor there must be a victim or a loser. This is not the role we want for our children. The gift that they offer is the opportunity to be free. Free from our self imposed reactionary life and a life of being "free to choose" who and what we want to be. And that dear parent is the pearl of great price!

Reactive behavior is based on a belief that the world is happening to us, and it is therefore our duty either to defend ourselves or to impose our will on what’s happening. This appears real because our attention is almost exclusively focused on a reflected past and projected future. Love based parenting teaches that “stress causes us to react from the past to project the future that may not be in our best interest”. And in most cases is not in our best interest. Nor is it in our children’s best interest. As long as our “buttons are being pushed”, our “triggers are being activated” and we are getting upset–we as parents are not learning our lessons.

We have two lessons to learn:
#1 is to remember who we really are.
#2 is to choose who we want to be.
The answers to these two questions will determine the path of our parenting approach.

In every moment we have an opportunity to choose. Bryan says, “choose love”. I add to this, choose who you want to be. Not who or what you are currently experiencing with the behaviors you display in any moment, but in fact who you want to be–then just do it. Some say, “that is just who I am”. This response is limiting and is a "life sentence" so long as you believe it.

This process of choosing and doing is a gift that can have eternal consequences for us. The change from reactive to responsive behavior is the single most important adjustment to our perception of the world, and therefore our interaction with, that will benefit our entire experience in life.

For those who seek outcomes, results and only behaviors that are acceptable to them, they will never see “The End”. And it is likely that they will be frustrated time and time again in their parenting efforts. For those who see the process, progress, and are able to observe, learn and predict more accurately, they will be better prepared to accept and love their children for who they are not just for who they want them to be.

David Durovy is the president and the janitor of The Post Institute. He tries very hard every day to bring Bryan's message of Love Based Family-Centered Parenting to the world. He and his wife Susan have fostered around 27 children and adopted four children at 6, 16, 17, and 21 years of age from the Virginia Foster Care program.

Integrating or Healing?

You might try thinking of your child as "integrating" rather than healing. These two words have very different intent. Healing makes an assumption that something is wrong and in need of fixing. Healing often attempts to get rid of whatever it attempts to heal. Healing is often more of a "reaction" to what is. There are scores of people who have integrateTemple Grandind their injuries, disabilities and conditions with no thought of ever healing them or making them go away. Think of painters with no arms who paint using only their mouth to hold a brush. Or world-class athletes with limbs missing. Or, more closely to our children, consider Dr. Temple Grandin, who although will be Autistic all her life, has learned to integrate her specific condition to propel her to Time Magazine's List of 100 most influential people in 2010. And with her condition has come some very unique talents and abilities that have added to her success. Let us help our children integrate rather than heal or fix the unique conditions and experiences along with the many talents and abilities they may possess. Think on this.

Baby, You Are a Parenting Superstar (Pt. 2)

(...click here if you missed Part 1)
How many life lessons must you learn? When will this school of life hold a graduation ceremony? When will you be able to sleep a full night, stress and worry free? When will you go through a day with ease and grace, loved completely by your family with no tears, no anger, no fear? The answers to these questions you may never know but each moment, each hour, each day, you continue, and still find time for a laugh, for a breath, for a moment to be gracious. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

Love becomes fear. Hope becomes despair. Joy becomes sadness. You cry. You stress. You worry. You toss and you turn. The school calls again. Another curse word, another broken possession, another disrupted family dinner. You wail inside and sometimes openly, "Oh Lord why has thou forsaken me to the desert barren of hope and peace? What have I done to be stricken by the one thousand locusts all wrapped into one ungrateful, defiant child? Where is my blessing?" And with each rising sun you get up and do it again. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

For you see, fear is the common way. It is, in fact, the broad and wide. Many will travel this path. Love is the straight and narrow. There are few that will follow this path. Even fewer will lead their families down it. And there are many more that will judge you for traveling it. It is also a fact that this judgment will make your task even more difficult and this is as it shall be. Without the pressure, without the conflict, without the heat of the fire, the diamond could not emerge from the coal. Fear not your journey, your path, or for that of your child. Walk the path of love, the straight and narrow, and continue to get up after you have stumbled, as you surely will. You will see. You will see. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

Choose Love,
B

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Baby, You Are a Parenting Super Star (Pt. 1)

Go in the bathroom and stand in the mirror, I have something to tell you. Ready?

You are a magnificent parent. You are a wonderful human being. You are bold, brave, courageous, passionate and most of all full of love. You have taken all that life has handed you and still yet, you stand. You have been unwavering in your commitment to create a better life for your child, for your family. True, you have stumbled, felt frustrated, not wanted to get back up. You have felt resentment, isolation, loneliness, and sometimes even hatred more times than you might wish to admit it, but you are still here. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star!

You didn't expect to encounter so many challenges on your parenting path. You thought that you had gone through the roughest patches in your life, and could look forward to some fun and loving times ahead. Yet, even when the sun went away and the clouds set in, you did not give up. You did not turn away. When the beach you laid out on became an unbearable mountain to climb, you've not packed up and gone home. Baby, you are a Parenting Super Star! (Read more here...)

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GBB Audio sIf you want in-depth understanding with challenging behaviors, start here...The Great Behavior Breakdown book began here - The Great Behavior Breakdown 13 CD Audio Program contains valuable and fascinating information about the roots and remedies of challenging behaviors. Covers specific tools and techniques for helping parents overcome some of the most problematic behaviors demonstrated by their children. To read more about this 13 hour CD program , just click here. (The Great Behavior Breakdown is also available as a paperback, Kindle  and PDF e-book - Click Here)
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Oxytocin | Love, Anti-Stress & Relationships

Oxytocin has been called the Love Hormone, the Anti-Stress Hormone & the Relationship Hormone. So which is it?

In her groundbreaking book The Chemistry of Connection, author Susan Kuchinskas writes, “Love not only makes us happy; it makes us healthy too. By means of oxytocin, love heals”. For centuries recognized as the hormone responsible for helping women to contract during labor, and subsequently to foster bonding between mother and child, oxytocin is quickly becoming acknowledged for its role in numerous aspects of human behavior.

When I first learned about oxytocin ten years ago it only struck me as a very important hormone for infant/mother bonding. It was not until being interviewed for The Chemistry of Connection and later reading the book that the full implications of this powerful hormone began to dawn on me. In fact, it wasn’t until I was interviewing Susan Kuchinskas for the Inner Circle that I began to put the possibilities in place.

I am going to take the liberty of sharing with you how I see this hormone applicable to parenting and relationships. Oxytocin is considered the “anti-stress” hormone. Every child with a background of trauma, especially pervasive emotional and environmental neglect suffers from a lack of oxytocin response. In a post-shell (my version of a nutshell!) when the amygdala (the brain’s fear receptor) is triggered and releases stress hormones, these hormones pass through the hypothalamus. Let’s think James Bond for a moment. Theoretically, the stress hormones are supposed to be messengers delivering an important briefcase of secret documents that need to be responded to. So as the amygdala sends the stress hormones through the door with the secret documents the hypothalamus is supposed to send its messengers, molecules of oxytocin, through at the same time in the opposite direction. The oxytocin messengers discreetly take the reaction and respond, thereby delivering the documents calmly and safely to their destination and communicating what important things are needed to save the world (your body mind). (To be continued...)

eCenter bannerMy original interview with Susan Kutchinskas in 2009 which sparked a collaborative effort in co-authoring the book Oxytocin Parenting, is now available free on our e-Learning Center. I hope you enjoy it as much as I havePower of Oxytocin over the years. It added a whole new dimension to my understanding of behaviors and how to heal our children as well as ourselves. Visit us at www.postinstitute.com/elearn/ and go the the Audios | Free and look for The Power of Oxytocin interview.