Monday, 22 September 2014

Parenting like a Dolphin

The Dolphin way

Ive been searching for a while now, for any books i could find about learning from animals. However, i hadnt had much luck until i accidentally stumbled across this book. In the book, the author talks about parenting lessons from the way dolphins do it. 

"In parenting, remember that you are the rope in the tug-o-war. Your child is fighting and testing themselves, not you. They may say they hate the rope and want it gone but they always need the rope at the same time. Without the rope, there is no game. Without the game, there is no growth." Amy Ninnes

In many ways, parenting is motivation management. Children are more motivated to play and sleep. Adolescents are more motivated to bond, socialise and explore. Curiosity is a key factor in self motivation. It is linked to our brains dopamine reward system. Motivation requires autonomy, mastery and purpose. Self motivation comes from autonomy, mastery, purpose, being adaptable and a sense of internal control, which comes from dolphin parenting. 

Authoritarian Parenting:
Helicopter parent-always hovering, waiting to intercede on the childs behalf. 
Lawnmower parent-always clearing the way of obstacles. 
Bubble wrapper parent-protects the child from the slightest disappointments or struggles. 
Tiger parent-child has no control, expects perfection and compliance, keeps the child constantly busy, etc. Older kids can even become their own tiger mum. 
Overdoing the following: pushing, hovering, rescuing, solving, instructing, setting goals for them, pressure. 

Permissive Parenting:
Jellyfish parent-child has to much control, turn a blind eye, no expectations or rules. 
Attachment parent-can become overindulgent. 
Spoiling is giving too little of whats essential. Spoiling is underparenting. 

What are your real expectations of your children? (To be a good person, to do what they love, to be happy and healthy)
Do you want to be perfect? (Unfortunately yes)
Do you feel the need to keep up with others? (to a certain degree yes)
How does your body let you know that you are unbalanced? (I get tired, cranky, low energy, low motivation, low enjoyment)
What survival activities do you do too much or too little? (Too much sleep, not enough exercise or healthy food)
Which parent are you? (Hubby would be a tiger. Im a jellyfish attachment dolphin. Mine and hubbys parents were probably a bit of all 3.)

Dolphin Parents:
Importance of play, social bonds, exploration, altruism, family, community. 
Guiding not directing
Make learning fun
Help break down a problem instead of solving it for the child
Make statements of the childs personal control
Ask permission before giving advice
Ask open ended questions
Listen more
Talk about behaviours benefits and drawbacks
Encouraging not instructing
Teaching by example
Using intuition
Parent is a clear authority figure
Clear rules
Reason with the child
Respond to the childs emotional needs
Make it clear they are commited and supportive
To motivate-empathise, focus on why a task is important and express belief in their ability
Explain their reasons
Integrate their intuition with their knowledge
Help them internalise motivation by connecting behaviour with their own goals

Guiding can be advice, offering solutions or just waiting for them to figure it out themselves
Rather than focusing on turning your child into something, its about bringing out whats already there-in your child and in you. The dolphin way is also a way to live your own life. 

The confusion that comes from our overwhelm puts us into fear mode. This leads to fight, flight or freeze styles of parenting. 

Humans are supposedly advanced yet we value survival after less important things like online shopping late at night instead of sleeping. Humans are the only animals that dont sleep, eat or drink enough and do crazy things like texting while driving or yelling at our kids to calm down. 

People change when they believe something is important and when they feel capable and independent. 

Play personalities include the storyteller, the joker, the artist/creator, collector, competitor, director, explorer, mover. Some people are one others can be all eight. These personalities are our natural strengths and contributions to the community. If an adult loves their job, it probably involves their play personality in some way. I would probably be the storyteller, creator, collector. My daughter would probably be all eight. Wow. 

Researchers have found that mass murderers have a often been shown to have had overbearing parents and a deprivation of play. It also results in depression as an adult, addictions, reduced creativity and low productivity. It was also found that a lack of play in adulthood caused a loss of emotional, social and cognitive skills. However a play deficit is just like a sleep deficit. It can be caught up on. 

Maslows hierarchy of needs is very similar to dolphin parenting. The essential determinants of happiness include basic survival and health, free play, brave exploration, wholehearted contribution, continuous challenge. 

Skills employers consider very important include teamwork, communication, english, diversity, creativity, IT, ethics, problem solving, professionalism, leadership, self-direction. 

The six stages of change and associated support techniques:
Precontenplation-no intent to change-validate their feelings, encouage them to evaluate their behaviour. 
Contemplation-consider change but conflicted-encourage thought about the benefits of change. 
Preparation-they can see that the benefits are worth changing for. Ready and committed to action but no concrete steps taken-examine obstacles, suggest small steps, identify support. 
Action-believe they can change and begin to, rely on self motivation-remind them of benefits and their self-efficacy. 
Maintenance-sustain the behaviour, avoid influences, remind selves of progress-reinforce internal rewards due to new changes. 
Relapse-self motivation wanes-evaluate the trigger, plan coping strategies.
Do you parent like a dolphin? Comment below. 

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