Unlocking Parental Intelligence Book Summary - Unlocking Parental Intelligence Book explained in key points

Unlocking Parental Intelligence summary

Laurie Hollman

Finding Meaning in Your Child's Behavior

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What is Unlocking Parental Intelligence about?

Unlocking Parental Intelligence (2015) explores childrens’ complicated behavior with a fresh mental toolbox to decipher why kids act the way they do. It outlines a five-step process with relatable case studies to help parents connect more deeply with their children, as well as anticipate their needs and actions.

About the Author

Laurie Hollman, PhD is a psychoanalyst who specializes in infant-parent, child, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy. She’s written best-selling books such as The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Exhaustion in Children and Teens and The Busy Parent’s Guide to Managing Technology in Children and Teens

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    Reflecting on the meaning behind your child’s behavior will lead to rich rewards.

    Imagine your daughter comes up to you one evening and wants to show you something she did. “Please don’t be mad,” she says. You tense up immediately, fearful of what her next words will be.

    In the case of 13-year-old Olivia, “something” turned out to be a regrettable lip ring. 

    Learning that your teenager pierced her lip without your permission is the sort of situation for which a parent could be forgiven for losing her temper. But in this case, Olivia’s mother, Delia, didn’t lash out with anger and punishment. Instead, noticing how upset her daughter looked, Delia told Olivia not to worry. She could simply take out the ring and let nature do its job, and the hole would close up.

    Olivia’s mother employed the tenets of Parental Intelligence.

    The key message here is: Reflecting on the meaning behind your child’s behavior will lead to rich rewards.

    The major premise behind Parental Intelligence is that a child’s behavior always has a meaning – often more than one. In situations where a child is acting in a way that’s upsetting for parents, the best thing to do is step back and focus on the psychological reality of what’s happening.

    What does this mean exactly? Instead of reacting with anger or frustration, you can instead think about what is prompting your child’s behavior. This will calm you down and yield clues that might solve even bigger family problems. A more mellow response has another benefit: your child will feel more comfortable confiding in you.

    Creating this distance and keeping your child in mind is a key principle of Parental Intelligence. Learning how to practice this behavior is sort of like learning how to dance. When you learn choreography, you begin to move your body differently and teach yourself new patterns of movement. In the same way, you can learn how to maneuver alongside your child in a productive – even beautiful – way.

    Reflection helped Delia understand that Olivia didn’t get a lip ring just to upset her; she did it because she was experimenting with her self-image and trying to be independent. Because Delia understood this motivation, she was able to stay calm. This gained Olivia’s trust and confidence, which benefited both mother and daughter for years to come.

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    Who should read Unlocking Parental Intelligence

    • Parents of infants, young children, or teenagers
    • Grandparents and caregivers struggling with difficult situations
    • Soon-to-be parents who want to be prepared

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