How to handle an upset child

Daniel Siegel, MD, shares advice for parents on how to turn a situation in which your child is upset into a learning opportunity
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How to handle an upset child

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You know, we often want to deny what's going on and move on and just kind of dismiss everything that's happening. But in fact teaching our child, even if they have done a behavior that was breaking some boundaries, is all about what's called discipline. And the word discipline really means to teach. If you remember as a parent that the main thing you are teaching your child is how to have mind sight, how to understand the inner nature, what's going on. Then instead of denying and dismissing, you can actually teach them how to look at the inner experiences they had. What were the feelings that got them to break a rule? Did they think about what the consequence would be? Did they understand after they broke the rule what might happen? And so even though you might set up a consequence for them, you are actually also teaching them at the same time, to understand the mind that drove their behavior. In the end that's the gift you want to give your child; a deep understanding that while they need the structure that you provide for sure, you also want to give them the mind sight skills that allow them to understand themselves, so that they can go out into the world with a lot of strength.

Daniel Siegel, MD, shares advice for parents on how to turn a situation in which your child is upset into a learning opportunity

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Daniel J. Siegel, MD

Neuropsychiatrist, New York Times Bestselling Author, and Mindsight Educator

Daniel J. Siegel received his medical degree from Harvard University and completed his postgraduate medical education at UCLA with training in pediatrics and child, adolescent and adult psychiatry. He served as a National Institute of Mental Health Research Fellow at UCLA, studying family interactions with an emphasis on how attachment experiences influence emotions, behavior, autobiographical memory and narrative.

Dr. Siegel is currently a clinical professor of psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine where he is on the faculty of the Center for Culture, Brain, and Development and the Co-Director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center. An award-winning educator, he is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association and recipient of several honorary fellowships. Dr. Siegel is also the Executive Director of the Mindsight Institute, an educational organization, which offers online learning and in-person lectures that focus on how the development of mindsight in individuals, families and communities can be enhanced by examining the interface of human relationships and basic biological processes. His psychotherapy practice includes children, adolescents, adults, couples, and families. He serves as the Medical Director of the LifeSpan Learning Institute and on the Advisory Board of the Blue School in New York City, which has built its curriculum around Dr. Siegel’s Mindsight approach.

Dr. Siegel has published extensively for the professional audience. He is the co-editor of the Handbook of Psychiatry and the author of numerous articles, chapters, and the internationally acclaimed text, The Developing Mind: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are.  This book introduces the field of interpersonal neurobiology, and has been utilized by a number of clinical and research organizations worldwide, including the U.S. Department of Justice, The Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, Microsoft and Google. The Developing Mind, Second Edition: How Relationships and the Brain Interact to Shape Who We Are was published in March 2012. Dr. Siegel serves as the Founding Editor for the Norton Professional Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology which contains over 12 textbooks. The Mindful Brain: Reflection and Attunement in the Cultivation of Well-Being  explores the nature of mindful awareness as a process that harnesses the social circuitry of the brain as it promotes mental, physical, and relational health. The Mindful Therapist: A Clinician's Guide to Mindsight and Neural Integration explores the application of focusing techniques for the clinician’s own development, as well as their clients' development of mindsight and neural integration. Norton released Dr. Siegel’s the Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology: An Integrative Handbook of the Mind in April 2012.

Dr. Siegel’s book, Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation, offers the general reader an in-depth exploration of the power of the mind to integrate the brain and promote well-being. He has written two parenting books, Parenting from the Inside Out: How a Deeper Self-Understanding Can Help You Raise Children Who Thrive with Mary Hartzell, M.Ed. and The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind  with Tina Payne Bryson, PhD., both of which explore the application of the mindsight approach to parenting. Dr. Siegel's latest release is The New York Times bestseller Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain (Tarcher, 2013), which explains how brain development impacts teenagers' behavior and relationships. His next book with Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. is No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind.

Dr. Siegel’s unique ability to make complicated scientific concepts easy to understand and exciting has led him to be invited to address diverse local, national and international groups of mental health professionals, neuroscientists, corporate leaders, educators, parents, public administrators, healthcare providers, policy-makers, and clergy. He has been invited to lecture for the King of Thailand, Pope John Paul II, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Google University, and TEDx. For 2010-2011, Dan is serving as the National Speaker for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Mindfulness and Integrative Medicine Lectures. He lives in Southern California with his family.

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