Collaborating with Parental Intelligence

Collaborating with Parental Intelligence
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Collaborating with Parental Intelligence

Parental Intelligence is a concept about child rearing that helps parents and kids connect in significant ways. Behavior is viewed as a communication between child and parent. A child’s behavior sends a message to parents that often cannot be put into words, so it’s put into action instead. The behavior may be puzzling to the parent, even upsetting, but if the parent’s outlook is one that has the perspective that behavior can be understood, much is learned and problems are solved.

There are 5 steps to using Parental Intelligence:

1.Stepping Back

When a parent views behavior that is puzzling or seems “bad” instead of reacting immediately, the parent steps back and thinks about what is occurring. This slows everyone down and often calms the child and the parent.


The parent notices that something about the behavior gives them certain feelings that they may not immediately understand. They may be angrier than warranted for example and be prompted to scream at the child. Instead, with stepping back, the parent has time to self-reflect on what is being stirred up so angrily inside of them.

3.Understanding Your Child’s Mind

This is the key to Parental Intelligence. The parent searches for the meaning of the behavior with the child. They find a way, maybe after some time as passed, to discuss the behavior. The parent begins to learn the child’s actual intentions, thoughts, feelings and beliefs. The behavior is now in the realm of communication. What the parent thought was the initial problem demonstrated by the behavior, may not be what is actually most important. For example, maybe your teen threw his back pack and slammed his door, not because he is mad at you but because his girlfriend just dumped him. So it’s time for the parent to listen to this crisis not worry about the slammed door.

4.Understanding Your Child’s Development

Your child’s stage of development is not the same as their chronological age. For example, a seven-year-old may be more empathic than a nine-year-old. It’s important when learning about the meaning of behavior to make sure your expectations match your child’s stage of development or you may come down too hard on him when he’s not capable of meeting your expectations.

5.Problem Solving

By this time in the process, if you have understood your child’s mind and the meaning of his behavior, the problem solving stage comes naturally. The problem is probably redefined from the original behavior and solutions come easily. Thinking back to the teen whose girlfriend left him, the way to solve this predicament is to listen to the teen’s feelings and drop in self-esteem. This is a far cry from consequences for slamming a door. The problem to be solved is lifting his self-confidence and working on potential social anxiety.

Parental Intelligence is learned slowly but when effective, problems are actually solved quickly because they are defined clearly. Further, parent-child relationships grow and expand exponentially.

Laurie Hollman, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and author of Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior found on Amazon and wherever books are sold. Visit her website:

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