The brain, as you probably already know, has two hemispheres. The strength and function of the left side of the brain is organization. The left side is logical and literal, and the left side likes words and putting things in a sequence. The right side of the brain is focused on the big picture, and the right side picks up all those nonverbal signals important for communication, such as facial expressions, eye contact, tone of voice, posture, and gestures.
Developmentally, young children are right-hemisphere dominant. Young children do not yet have the ability to use logic or words to express the complexity of emotions. For young children, particularly those up to the age of three, logic, responsibilities, and time simply don’t exist. In fact, the left brain is just beginning to kick into gear when a toddler asks, “Why?” The development of the left brain’s integrated function with the right takes time.
As parents, it is important to remember that logic may not be the means of getting to an end. It is crucial to recognize that no matter how illogical and frustrating your child’s feelings may seem to you, they are very important and very real for your child.
For example, if your child is feeling hurt because a sibling is getting what seems like preferential treatment, a tally sheet isn’t going to get you anywhere. More likely, connecting to the feelings will be more productive, resulting in less frustration for everyone involved. This connection can be accomplished by acknowledging the feelings and the reality of them while using nonverbal signals like a little back rub, facial expressions that communicate empathy, a caring tone of voice, and a listening ear of acceptance.
When you connect with your child right brain to right brain, the attunement in that act will help your child bring his or her own brain into balance. The renewed balance will allow for the right brain to integrate with the left, and then the specific issues of concern can be worked out. Only after this integration takes place will your logically explaining your point of view be received.
Connect with the right brain so the left brain can join the conversation.