Parenting Education · Family Coach

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Why is it so HARD to change my Parenting Style?

I know how hard this is, I have tried many, many times to change many different things about my parenting.  I spent hours devouring Alfie Kohn and Robin Grille and then eager to try to new techniques, knowing that they are the right thing for me, eager to try them out, I try and try and all goes well for a few hours, if I am lucky, a few days, and then wham, the wheels fall off, and I fall apart into the old habits, or even worse I explode.

At this point a lot of parents give up, or declare that the technique was hopeless, was doomed to failure, because it was too “permissive” etc and that it is therefore better to go back to more “traditional” methods.

Why does this happen?  And what is actually going on?

Even one of our thoughts and behaviors is a result of a neural pathway that we have created and nurtured.  And the pathways that are strongest are the ones that we rely on the most.  We rely on them for everything, from knowing that a loaf of bread is bread, to knowing when to go to the toilet.  The thing is that neural pathways have their most explosive growth between 0-3 years of age, and at 3 they go through pruning process where those least used are pruned away.  This is bad news for kids raised in a neglectful environment, but great news for those not.  We can still create and prune after then, otherwise we would never learn new things, but often our patterns for caregiving, parenting, and relationships are set between 0-3 years.  This (in part) prepares you for how you will behave as a parent when your time comes and (in part) will help to define every relationship you have.


So, if you are trying to change your parenting, you are probably trying to change your neural pathways.  Especially if you are choosing a path that is different from the way that you were raised.  You are forcing your brain to go down weaker pathways. Your brain will want to go down the strong ones, the habitual ones. To keep forcing it down the weak pathways not only strengthens those pathways but will increase cognitive fatigue. Be kind to yourself, it is in those moments that you are most likely to lose it, and perhaps feel that it’s not worth it. Celebrate how far you have already come, apologize, smooth it over, and keep stretching your mind. Be kind, you are rewriting your brain (in addition to encouraging your children’s pathways to change), and that is exhausting work. These are but bumps on the road in your journey of parenting. And you have chosen to walk a harder, but more fulfilling path xxx

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