Dharma Parenting: Understand Your Child’s Brilliant Brain for Greater Happiness, Health, Success, and Fulfillment. Dr. Robert Keith Wallace and Dr. Fred Travis. 2016, TarcherPerigee. 288 pages.
One of the things that makes parenting so challenging is that the bun does not come out of the oven ready-baked. Instead, human children continue to go through massive leaps of development outside the womb.
So, a 4-year old will not have the same capacity for self-regulation as a 10-year old. And your kid at age 16 might only faintly remind you of the same child when he was 9.
On top of that, even if you and your partner are genetically related to your little one, she still might have a personality that is so different from either of you, it feels as if she’s from another planet.
Parents often joke that children should come with manuals. Now finally there is a book which works as a go-to guide to understanding yourself and your child better, helping you both flourish as a result.
Different individuals, different needs
Dharma Parenting by Dr. Robert Keith Wallace and Dr. Fred Travis combines the latest scientific research with ancient knowledge of Ayurveda to explain how to provide the best environment for each child, depending on their individual disposition and age.
The book makes use of the Ayurvedic concept of three main physical, mental, social, and behavioral tendencies — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
The Vata nature is sensitive, always changing, and creative. The Pitta nature is dynamic, strong-willed, and inquisitive. The Kapha nature is calm, steady, and kind.
Each parent and child is a combination of these three natures, with one or two dominating and this personal disposition determines what they need to excel.
For example, some children need help settling down for naps to assure they are getting enough rest. In contrast, some kids need to be prevented from sleeping too much and becoming sluggish as a result.
Dharma Parenting gives you all the practical advice you need for the diet, routines, aroma therapy and exercise for different types of children and adults.
The six tools of Dharma parenting
The core of the book is dedicated to the six primary tools of Dharma parenting.
D: DISCOVER YOUR CHILD’S, AND YOUR OWN, BRAIN/BODY TYPE
With a help of a short quiz, you can determine each of your family member’s brain/body type. The authors explain the gist of the different brain/body types and how to keep each in a perfect balance.
The book also arms parents with knowledge on how to make the family work the best as a unit taking into consideration everyone’s (potentially different) dispositions.
H: HEAL YOURSELF
It is not possible to parent successfully when tired and stressed. Dharma Parenting provides proven tips to keeping the parents in top-notch state for the sake of everyone’s well-being.
This includes the suggestion to practice Transcendental Meditation – a well-proven tool to bust stress and have more energy. As parents, this will help you put the oxygen mask on yourself first to then be able to be there for your children 100%.
A: ATTENTION AND APPRECIATION
The authors explain how exactly attention and appreciation can be used to help your children grow up to be competent and considerate adults.
R: ROUTINES TO IMPROVE FAMILY DYNAMICS
Not only does the book consider routines as tools to facilitate the inevitably complicated logistics of a family’s daily life. It also demonstrates how routines can help meet the needs of the different brain/body types and in the form of family meetings develop children’s problem-solving skills.
M: MANAGE MELTDOWNS AND CULTIVATE BETTER BEHAVIOR
This tool is further broken down to six recommendations, all starting with the letter C.
1. Check in with yourself and with your child
2. Comfort your child
3. Change brain states
The authors explain in detail each of these steps and illustrate with examples how to successfully turn meltdowns into valuable lessons that help foster personal growth.
A: ANTICIPATE AND ADAPT
With the help of the first five Dharma parenting tools and equipped with the understanding of how your little one’s brain is changing, you can naturally start looking ahead and avoiding rather than solving crises.
The book also walks the reader through the brain changes during the first two decades of life and offers advice on how to best adapt the Dharma parenting tools in each of four major stages of children’s development.
WATCH VIDEO: Authors’ intro to Dharma Parenting
The ultimate parenting tool
The authors emphasize that to be able to put all this good advice into practice, it is important to follow through with the second tool: Heal yourself.
“For the writers of this book, the ultimate parenting tool has been Transcendental Meditation (TM). We have both been meditating since college, and we’ve learned that the TM technique is a great preparation for life, and especially for the most demanding job of all—parenting,” Wallace and Travis say.
As Transcendental Meditation helps to gain deep rest, become more creative, energetic and calm, learn better and be more happy, all the rest will follow with more ease.