On Psychology

In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2007 / 26 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

Tell Your ‘Inner Child’ to Just Keep Out of This

By Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn

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Ever found yourself in an argument with one of your kids? Here's where the conversation went wrong

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "I can't do anything with her," Mrs. Porter said plaintively, "I am absolutely starting to lose it."

"Starting?" her husband asked with genuine surprise and a roll of the eyeballs. "Listen," he confided in me, "my wife's just as bad as our seven-year-old when they get going. You should hear them."

"Tell me more," I said to Mrs. Porter.

"To be honest," she admitted, "he's right. I don't know how it all degenerates, but something inside me goes haywire every single time Sabrina acts up, and all the wonderful parenting tricks you've taught us go right outside the window."

"Guess what?" I tell them, "You're not alone. Your brain is causing this and we can get you out of it!" It's at this point that I explain a little bit about how the human brain works and why the best mechanisms it has to offer can mess you up later on in life. Efficiency is one of the most outstanding characteristics of the human brain. In neurobiological terms this means that when childhood memories are recorded for future use, those memories are stored in very rough categories.

"Harmful," for example, could describe the face of a toy doll that resembles a frightening dog. As a child, when you'd see the doll-face, you might have gotten scared because it resembles the scary face of the big dog. As an adult, there's no logical reason in the world why you should become momentarily scared by a similar doll-face, but that's exactly what happens. It's all because your brain makes a hasty decision that a new stimulus belongs in a particular category. What it loses in logic, it gains in speed, and speed is of the essence when you need to protect yourself. Thus, if you're in a deserted street and you see a movement out of the corner of your eye, you'll perhaps get startled. That's good because that level of alertness could save your life.

So how does this apply to Mrs. Porter and her struggle with seven-year-old Sabrina?

Sabrina's antics would "bring" her mother right back to her own childhood. That is, without realizing it, her child's behavior evoked in her all the feelings that she had as a child herself and all the reactions. When confronted with her own normal seven-year old behavior, Mrs. Porter's parents didn't really know what to do. Her father would hit her and, even at the tender age she was, she swore she would never do that to a child of her own. Her mother would yell helplessly.

Given the two choices, the helpless yelling seemed much kinder although it didn't really accomplish anything. With all that bad parenting, it's a wonder Mrs. Porter grew up to be a fairly normal, nice adult. Throughout her childhood, all she knew was to yell back at her mother, whine, feel stupid, be wrong, and not enjoy whatever it was she was whining for anyway after her parents drained every drop of fun out of it. She did not have a sense of competency and success.

And that is precisely what was triggered in her brain when she was confronted with a whining, yelling, or in some other way challenging, little girl. Automatically and with great efficiency, her brain dredged up the unsuccessful responses she and her mother used when she was a child.

There's been a lot of "inner child" therapy in the last couple of decades and it's lovely. The inner child is that hurt little Mrs. Porter who couldn't get what she wanted and was scolded anyway. This inner child needs to heal. But even more vital to Mrs. Porter's parenting, she (the inner child) needs to stay out of the adult Mrs. Porter's way when she is trying to apply useful parenting strategies that she has learned. Easier said than done. The brain mechanism that launches the whining-and-yelling- Mrs. Porter is lightning quick and, as we said, not very accurate besides not being a reservoir of successful parenting memories. So we have, on the one hand, Mrs. Porter's higher-functioning cerebral cortex brimming with wonderful techniques to work with her children, and on the other hand, her "inner child" reacting quite un-helpfully but quicker and more effectively than her cerebral cortex.

The strategy to get around this problem is to learn methods to buy time. If Mrs. Porter can slow the entire process down by, say, one whole minute, she wins. That is, her cerebral cortex (the thinking and rational part of her brain) wins over her "inner child."

Here are various strategies that people have used to buy themselves that minute:

  • Breathe deeply and peacefully as soon as tension starts and focus on the breathing. This miraculously disengages the automatic and unhelpful emotional response.

  • Say affirmations to oneself such as: "I am a competent adult and I have a bunch of good tools that I can use."

  • Repeat the affirmation slowly and firmly as necessary.

  • Recite inspirational messages to yourself.

  • Hum soothing melodies to yourself.

Mrs. Porter and I developed a list of the tools she would like to be able to use with her daughter and then practiced the breathing.

Meanwhile, Mr. Porter was not to be left out. Why, I wanted to know, did he roll his eyeballs instead of supporting his wife? Could it be that by being so superior he got to dump the problem of disciplining Sabrina on his wife? If so, that wasn't very fair, was it? He agreed it wasn't and we worked out a plan for him to be more involved. We decided to capitalize on his sense of humor to help both his wife and child learn to laugh at themselves and lighten up while in the thick of their tugs-of-war. All this could only work, of course, with Mrs. Porter's cooperation, but she was happy to give it as she actually welcomed her husband's humor to de-stress situations.

In this way, Mrs. Porter's cerebral cortex wins and her "inner child" is kept from making a mess of things.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspirational material. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn is an Orthodox Marriage & Family Therapist. To comment, please click here. To visit her website, please click here.

‘Is’ is Dangerous
Are the High Holy Days About Guilt?
Confessions of a religious feminist
Kindliness and Blood: A Passover Thought
Arguing: It's a Jewish thing

© 2007, Dr. Debby Schwarz Hirschhorn