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The Power of Showing Up

How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

By Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
10-minute read
Audio available
The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Power of Showing Up (2020) is a guide to doing one of the most essential things when it comes to raising well-adjusted children – being fully present for them. From providing a safe haven to helping cope with life’s hurdles, parents and caregivers can learn how to build strong bonds with their children that will encourage them to feel confident and secure as they step out into the world.

  • Hands-on parents who want to feel empowered and connected to their children
  • Teachers and caregivers looking to become better equipped to support children
  • Students and educators in the field of child psychology

Acclaimed child psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel is a clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA’s School of Medicine and the co-founding director of the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. He founded the Mindsight Institute to promote compassion and empathy in communities. Siegel’s 2014 book Brainstorm, a guide to understanding and nurturing the teenage brain, was a New York Times bestseller.

Tina Payne Bryson is a psychotherapist and the founder of The Center for Connection – as well as the Play Strong Institute, which offers play therapy for families and training for students and professionals. She’s frequently invited to speak to educators, parents, and fellow professionals in her field. Together, Siegel and Bryson have co-authored three parenting books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Whole-Brain Child and No-Drama Discipline.

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The Power of Showing Up

How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired

By Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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The Power of Showing Up by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Synopsis

The Power of Showing Up (2020) is a guide to doing one of the most essential things when it comes to raising well-adjusted children – being fully present for them. From providing a safe haven to helping cope with life’s hurdles, parents and caregivers can learn how to build strong bonds with their children that will encourage them to feel confident and secure as they step out into the world.

Key idea 1 of 6

The bonds we form with our parents affect us long into adulthood.

Growing up, did you ever notice how your friends’ relationships with their parents were often completely different from your own? They might have been closer, more distant, or even estranged.

These important relationships start forming the day we’re born, and their nature depends greatly on the care we receive in those early days and throughout childhood.

Children who have their needs consistently met have the healthiest bonds with their parents. This is what psychologists call a secure attachment.

Developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth’s “Infant Strange Situation” test – which examined what happened when caregivers left their babies in a new room alone or with strangers – demonstrated this in the 1960s. Observing the families at home, Ainsworth and her colleagues found that babies whose parents provided sensitivity and consistent care were the most secure. When their parents left the room, these babies showed signs of missing them but were able to continue playing; when parents returned, the babies happily greeted them before returning to their toys.

Unfortunately, some children receive inconsistent care and affection, while others’ needs aren’t met at all. In extreme cases, parents are severely disconnected from their children’s needs. Sometimes they even frighten them or show signs of being frightened themselves, which can be deeply upsetting to a child.

When this happens, children develop forms of insecure attachment that lead to unhealthy behaviors like the suppression of their needs and emotions, general anxiety that persists whether or not their parents are present, or even fear of their parents.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult for children with insecure attachments to move beyond these negative effects; attachment styles follow us into adulthood and influence our relationships with other people, including our children.

Insecurely attached children become adults who are disconnected from their feelings. They feel unsafe in the world and struggle to trust and connect with others, making it hard for them to have healthy and supportive relationships with their own children.

Children who are securely attached, on the other hand, grow up experiencing – and learning to value – good communication. They can manage their emotions and are able to understand themselves and others, making connecting with their children far easier.

People aren’t destined to be bad parents because of how they were raised, though – you can learn secure attachment later in life. To do this, you need to reflect on your childhood, with the help of a therapist if necessary, and acknowledge the negative effects it had on you. Only then can you take steps to heal and start creating an environment in which you can develop secure bonds with your children.

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