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May 1, 2020
Vol. 77
No. 8

Relevant Read / The Benefits of Being There

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Social-emotional learning
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The Power of Showing Up: How Parental Presence Shapes Who Our Kids Become and How Their Brains Get Wired by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson, Ballantine Books, 2020
While the book is geared toward parents, educators can learn a lot from the principles outlined, which are based on brain science. The authors reference research and studies from interpersonal neurobiology, which "looks at how our mind—including our feelings and thoughts, our attention and awareness—and our brain and the whole body are deeply interwoven."
The book explains in layman's terms how our brains grow and change based on how secure and safe we feel—both in childhood and adulthood—and how "showing up" for a child can help that child blossom into a self-reliant, confident person. The authors walk readers through a series of research studies that show how, starting at infant level, humans learn to react (or shut down) if their emotional and safety needs are not met. Parents and teachers who have dealt with a toddler in a "meltdown tantrum," or a student lashing out in anger seemingly out of the blue, can relate and appreciate the examples and advice here.
Perhaps the most important message in the book is that no one is perfect—and we don't have to be. All parents, teachers, and caregivers can offer a secure attachment to the kids in their care, no matter what their own childhood was like. It starts with the simple act of showing up.
—Tara Laskowski

Tara Laskowski is senior editor for Educational Leadership.

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