Fre-Frontal Lobe Damage

I am fond of saying things about the Pre-Frontal Cortex.  YOU might have noticed that if you are a long time Daily YOU Time reader.  I just like the way it rolls off my tongue. Uh, fingers?  
Anyway, our attachment challenged children, as well as any child who comes from difficult beginnings of distressed pregnancy, prematurity, and birth trauma are going to experience frontal lobe (i.e. Pre-Frontal Cortex) damage or delay (if that is easier to think about.)  
That part of the brain is responsible for executive functions of memory, theory of mind (e.g. knowing that one’s mind is not the only mind), extrapolation, cause and effect thinking, reason, and ultimately complex judgement and morality.
Dr. James Chandler nicely describes some of the functions this way:
  1. Working memory and recall (holding facts in mind while manipulating information; accessing facts stored in long-term memory.)
  2. Activation, arousal, and effort (getting started; paying attention; finishing work)
  3. Controlling emotions (ability to tolerate frustration; thinking before acting or speaking)
  4. Internalizing language (using “self-talk” to control one’s behavior and direct future actions)
  5. Taking an issue apart, analyzing the pieces, reconstituting and organizing it into new ideas (complex problem solving).

Give your child a break when it comes to statements they make like:

I forgot.

I don’t remember how to do it.

I don’t remember what you said.

I got distracted.

I can’t focus.

I can’t think.

I can’t start.

I can’t manage.

I don’t know.

I don’t know how.

I can’t remember how.

I didn’t hear you.

I can’t control it.

I just took it.

I just wanted it.

I just hit him.

I got confused.

I can’t do my homework.

I can’t organize it.

I am trying to organize it.

I can’t figure it out.

I can’t.

I can’t.

I can’t.

Your child probably can’t. This is not bad, lazy, unmotivated, defiant, passive aggressive, attachment disordered, stubborn, stupid, resistant, avoidant, or hateful.  Your child needs hurdle-help, brain training, tools, repetition, hands-on experience, skill-building, and your patience.

Pre-Frontal Cortex frontal lobe damage is the problem, not your child.

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

Next Trust-based Parent Training Course in Sacramento, CA is September 27, 2014 and October 4, 2014. Sign-up here.
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Patience and understanding will save your relationship with a child who comes from difficult beginnings. Relationship is love in action. 
Love Matters.

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