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Publisher's Summary

The first parenting book to bring the science and psychology of children's behavior together to build brain/body awareness for self-regulation and success.

Self-Reg is a groundbreaking book that presents an entirely new understanding of your child's emotions and behavior and serves as a practical guide for parents to help their kids engage calmly and successfully in learning and life. Rooted in decades of clinical practice and research by leading child psychologist Dr. Stuart Shanker, Self-Reg realigns the power of the parent-child relationship for positive change.

Self-regulation is the nervous system's way of responding to stress. We are seeing a generation of children and teens with excessively high levels of stress and, as a result, an explosion of emotional, social, learning, behavior, and physical health problems. But few parents recognize the hidden stressors that their children are struggling with physiologically as well as socially and emotionally. An entrenched view of childrearing is seeing our children as lacking self-control or willpower, but the real basis for these problems lies in excessive stress.

Self-regulation can dramatically improve a child's mood, attention, and concentration. It can help children to feel empathy and to develop the sorts of virtues that every parent knows are vital for their child's long-term well-being. Self-regulation brings about profound and lasting transformation that continues to mature throughout life.

Shanker translates decades of his findings from working with children into practical, prescriptive advice for parents, giving them concrete ways to develop their self-regulation skills and teach their children how to do the same for optimal learning, social, and emotional growth as well as for overall well-being.

©2016 Stuart Shanker (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Though this book takes children’s needs as its focus, it is really focused on providing guidance - and even a degree of consolation - to adults as they navigate the often tricky parent-child relationship. Shanker gives readers clear explanations of even the more complex neurological information, such as the role of the limbic system, as well as ample diagrams. And the discussion does not stop at the early childhood stage, moving ultimately into adolescence. If the stressed populations most in need of this book’s lessons can find the time to read it, they will appreciate its potential to bring the minds of both parent and child to a state of heightened attentiveness with minimal anxiety.” (Publishers Weekly)

"Comprehensive data backs up a much-tested system that assists parents in getting their children to a calmer state of mind....straightforward and will be useful for any age level." (Kirkus Reviews)

“Our digital age is stressful, frantic and over-stimulating. Raising a child today requires an understanding of self-regulation. Self-Reg is a wonderful guide for parents, a way to understand the hidden stressors facing children, and their neurological, psychological, social, and emotional effects. Dr. Shanker helps parents not just to understand the meaning of their child’s behavior with compassion, but, just as essentially, how to calm themselves in order to better guide their children toward more positively engaged living.” (Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD, author of The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age)

What listeners say about Self-Reg

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Phenomenal

I've read over 30 parenting books in the past couple of years, including excellent pieces by Tsabari, Greene, Markham, & Siegal, but I found Self-Reg really touched a chord, and is the perfect complement for those other works, which I'll continue to revisit. Self-Reg has the advantage of being something that I'm already using myself, for myself, not just in my role as a parent, but also as a physician, educator, husband, artist, and human. The narrator's soothing voice made learning the material easier, very much in keeping with the basic premise of Self-Reg. It has even changed my meditation practice to a practice of self-regulation, and that has made all the difference. I believe I'm already a better parent, ironically, just as my child became a better son. :-) Go figure! I really like this book, I just started my second read/listen, this time via Kindle version.

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Very helpful for all parents and teachers!

This helped me understand the way the brains of my children (all 7 of them) are developing, how media and food affects them, and how I can get through to them in stressful times by helping to calm them and by staying calm myself. Fascinating book.

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Better books out there

This book had a lot of info and background but really nothing in the way of what to do about it. It's not the first book I've read that deals with these same things & was definitely the least helpful. The Explosive Child & What Your Explosive Child is Trying to Tell You we're way more helpful in way to help with regulation even if your child isn't necessarily an exploder.

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Helpful Reference for Entire Family

My husband and I found this to be a very helpful reference for working with our kids and also ourselves. Preventative maintenance is it concept that we haven't really placed as much effort on now that our kids are older and we were reminded through this book to watch for the signs and prevent chaos before it happens. The science behind the book is also very helpful information to refer to.

3 people found this helpful

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Self-Reg is a good read, but could be clearer

I've read a lot of books on parenting, so I find myself always looking for ways to contextualize and synthesize what I'm reading in relation to those other works and my own experiences.

This book fills a gap that I don't think gets filled very effectively by other books I've read. I'm a huge fan of Dr. Ross Greene's "Raising Human Beings" but it really focuses on just the conversation that you have after the storm has passed, not so much why there was a storm in the first place, or how to prevent them. It's in there, but it's not the focus. Dr. Dan Siegel's works cover this area a bit as well, but they don't delve into the same level of detail (the five elements of stress, the different reactions to stress, etc.) as Self-Reg does.

Self-Reg lives almost entirely in the space that comes before the storm. It explains why the storm is happening (though I really think it would benefit from talking about Sensory Processing Disorder specifically, since that seems to be what he's talking about in many of his examples, though he never actually says so) in terms of what is causing stress for the child in one of five areas. The idea is that you as the parent will pay close enough attention to help them realize when they are becoming hyper- or hypo-aroused, and to help them figure out what gets them back to feeling calm. With your help, they will learn to recognize these things in themselves and be able to self-regulate over time, preventing the stress-fueled explosions that mark so many difficult interactions that we all have.

I think this is a really useful area to spend some time thinking. I recognize much of what he's talking about in my own kids. My four-year old will go into "fight or flight" and literally run away from his toothbrush or a pair of pants. Learning to recognize when the stress is building toward that point, and finding ways to reduce it before it boils over is absolutely valuable, and teaching kids to have the self-awareness necessary to recognize it in themselves (and us in our own selves as we help them) can only be hugely beneficial to them.

My complaint about the book is that it doesn't seem to really lay out the practical how-to aspects very clearly or in a way that makes it likely to stick in one's mind. I just recently read two other books on other self-improvement related subjects that were excellent at doing chapter reviews and giving very specific guidance on everything they suggested, and it was so much easier to feel like I was getting a handle on what I should actually *do* once I'm done reading. Self-Reg interweaves the suggestions into the discussions of neurobiology, and specific examples, and even then they feel like they are being more vaguely hinted-at than they are being laid out for maximum ease of implementation. At the very end of the book, there's a review section that does this, but I'd have loved more of it throughout, to help lock those ideas in while I was listening to the specific sections, with the examples and principles fresh in my mind to support the guidance.

Overall I'd call it a 3.5-4 star read, especially if you have read other books on the subject and want to fill in a gap that many others ignore or gloss over without much depth.

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A must read for anyone raising or working with children

As a psychotherapist, this is one of the most important books I’ve read to date. It has helped me reframe so much of the volatile behavior I’ve seen in children, parents and couples, and enabled me to reformulate my approach.

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Powerful

Great information on how children and adults alike who appear to react outrageously in response to nothing actually have a significant underlying stressor that, when added to by the simplest request or expectation, is just too much to handle. When we as adults, educators, counselors, or even just human beings take the time to see and hear what is really happening below the surface, we have the ability to help these people rather than continue to add to their undoing. Powerful information!

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another excellent book by Stuart Shanker

I found this audio book an excellent resource of strategies for any parent or mental health provider who works with children and youth to better understand how our brain regulates us. Very easy to listen to and I appreciated the the author narrating it himself.

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Great awareness

I loved the awareness this book gives for self reg. So many good insights but I kept hoping it would get around to more clearly listing the steps of what to do and how to do it. Perhaps this is because it is so personalized. But I Feel like it made you think you needed a counselor to walk you through implementing this rather than teaching you how to implement it yourself. Overall it was great to see my children with a different lens. Thank you!

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Great parenting book

A book that every parent should read.
Especially those with kids who have regulating issues