Some time back I said I was going to summarise the salient points from the landmark parenting book by Margot Sunderland, titled “The Science of Parenting.” For any person who truly desires to raise their child in a manner that will offer that child the best skills for happiness, emotional well-being and success in life, this is the book for you. This summary is intended to offer the gist of the information from the book, but I strongly recommend reading the book to gain a thorough understanding of the psychology of child development. Implementing the recommended methods of parenting is more effective when you understand the theory behind it.
Who is Margot Sunderland?
Firstly, who the heck is Margot Sunderland and why should we be listening to her? What does she know that makes her an expert and an authority to talk about child psychology or even to tell us how we should raise our children?
Margot Sunderand’s professional background:
- Director of Education and Training for the Centre of Child Mental Health in London
- Psychotherapist for children with 20 years of experience working with children and families
- Runs a Masters degree program in Child Psychotherapy and Emotional Literacy for Children
- Author of more than 20 published books on child mental health
- Won an award in Mental Health (from the British Medical Association) for the publication of one of her books in 2002
The Science of Parenting
The research from The Science of Parenting is backed by more than 800 studies from around the world. The philosophy behind the Science of Parenting is not merely to raise children that become functional adults but for them to become caring, compassionate adults with the capacity to respect the differences of others. This books reveals the science behind how the early interactions children have with their parents can affect whether or not they grow into adults suffering from depression, anxiety or anger management issues.
When I talk about successful children, I refer to Dr Sears’ definition of a successful child. A successful child is one that is:
- able to form meaningful relationships with others
- empathic and compassionate
- kind and polite
- able to make wise choices; to think and act morally
- has a healthy attitude towards sexuality
- able to communicate well
- has a joyful attitude
As a parent, knowing that my role in his life contributes largely towards the success of my child leads me to relentlessly pursue the parenting methodologies that have been proven to offer a child the best chances for success in life.
Professor Jaak Panksepp who has studied the emotional brain for more than 30 years states that:
- “children who emotional feelings are cherished and respected, even their angry outbursts, live more happily than those whose early passions are denied. Both excessive distress and tender loving care leave lasting marks on the emotional circuits , and mentalities of developing brains.”
- “the first three years of seeking and affectively engaging the world are critical for the future success of every boy and girl. It is important for them to get off on the right track both emotionally and intellectually.”
“The advances of neuroscience, brain scans, and years of research on the brains of primates and other mammals…” reveal that “key emotional systems in the human brain are moulded for better or worse by parenting experiences. Although we cannot protect our children from future unhappiness, we now have scientific information about how different methods of parenting impact a child’s brain.” Although our parents may have raised us differently because they did not have access to the information we have now, the parents of this generation cannot claim such ignorance on the effects certain styles of parenting have on the fragile mind of a child. We live in the information age and as parents it is our duty to use that information for the betterment of our children’s lives.
This is the first of a series of posts that look at the key points outlined in the book “The Science of Parenting“. Stay tuned for more on this topic.