My name is Jennifer Kolari and I am really looking forward to answering questions and sharing my method of Connected Parenting with all of you. I am a family therapist with a practice in Toronto and San Diego, and a mother of three.
I love being a therapist and I especially love working with children one on one. Kids are amazing and they fascinate me whether they are infants or teenagers. Many years ago as a beginning therapist at a children’s mental health centre, I learned the power of connecting, deep listening and empathy in my work with children. I saw the powerful impact this had on their treatment. Even though I was only seeing them once a week I could see it working, I could see them feeling better, more confident and buoyant. And it occurred to me, what would happen if I taught the parents to do what I do? What would happen if I helped all parents not just those with troubled kids to use the skills that therapists use to protect and enhance bonds and ensure healthy emotional development.
It turns out that recent research suggests that developmental experiences have a profound impact on how a mature brain functions. The more pleasant experiences a child’s brain has, the more the brain specializes for positive emotion – meaning that later in life, he or she may cope better with stress, become more resilient, and be more positive in general. The closer and more connected children are to their parents the lower their anxiety, the better their self esteem, and the stronger their social skills. Research also shows that the presence of a consistent nurturing care giver decreases risk of mental health issues and addiction in later life. Most of us think we are pretty good at being empathic and ensuring a strong connection with our kids but it is harder than you think.
Most parents love their children and want only the best for them, but when a child says no all the time, is acting out, anxious, not sleeping, or throwing tantrums that bond can become frayed. It takes many tools in your parenting toolbox to be a great parent and to raise healthy happy kids. Your relationship and how well you balance empathy, nurturing and correcting are the most important experiences of all.
There are times when we all feel lost, anxious or frustrated, especially as first time parents. Many of us are shocked to find how much parenting can stress our relationships with our partner, spouse or our extended family. We may wonder why our child is the only one not sleeping through the night, or stuck our legs in the play group or having a tantrum in an ice cream store.
I will deal with all of this and more. I look forward to being a part of your parenting journey in some small way.
Valerie M. Bourne MSW RSW