From internationally celebrated research professor Stuart Shanker, a revolutionary new understanding of stress as the key that unlocks kids'--and parents'--most troubling behaviour.
There is no such thing as a bad kid. According to world-renowned researcher Stuart Shanker, even the most frustrating, annoying or troubling behaviour has an explanation. That means there is a way to make things better.
Shanker's research has shown that for every child and every adult the ability to thrive--to complete tasks, form friendships, learn, and even love--depends on being able to self-regulate. In the past twenty years neurobiological research has been showing us a lot about brain states, and what is clear now is that the ability to self-regulate in response to stress is central.
There are dramatic consequences to looking at a child's behaviour through the lens of self-regulation. Above all it discards the knee-jerk reaction that a child who is having trouble paying attention, controlling his impulses, or who gives up easily on a difficult task, is somehow weak or lacks self-discipline or is not making a great enough effort to apply himself.
According to Shanker, the ability to deal effectively with stress is limited, though. Like a tank of gas, our energy reserves eventually dwindle, leaving a kid--or an adult--simply unable to control his or her impulses. That is, misbehaving kids aren't choosing to be difficult. They literally can't help themselves. And what draws down our reserves? Excessive stress. Stress of all kinds, from social anxiety to an uncomfortable chair. Reduce the stress loads, and problems quickly dissipate.
Dr. Stuart Shanker is a distinguished research professor emeritus of philosophy and psychology at York University in Toronto and creator of The MEHRIT Centre, which is working with school boards across Canada to implement Self-Reg in teacher and parent education. He was educated at the University of Toronto, where he won several awards, including scholarships to study at Oxford, where he obtained his doctorate. He lives in Ontario.
Teresa H. Barker is a journalist and nonfiction book co-writer in the fields of child development and parenting, education, psychology, spirituality, health and aging.
“Though this book takes children’s needs as its focus, it is really focused on providing guidance—and even a degree of consolation—to adults as they navigate the often tricky parent-child relationship. Shanker gives readers clear explanations of even the more complex neurological information, such as the role of the limbic system, as well as ample diagrams. And the discussion does not stop at the early childhood stage, moving ultimately into adolescence. If the stressed populations most in need of this book’s lessons can find the time to read it, they will appreciate its potential to bring the minds of both parent and child to a state of heightened attentiveness with minimal anxiety.”— Publishers Weekly