Unlocking Parental Intelligence and Finding Keys to Your Child’s Mind

Learning how to understand your child’s mind from infancy to adolescence is the way to stay inspired as a parent.

When you’re devoted and strongly bent on being the best parent ever it’s uncanny that you get so tired, wary, and even bored with parenthood. Your very well-being and the well-being of your children seem at stake. After 30 years as a psychoanalyst working with kids and parents I coined the term, Parental Intelligence, to help parents learn how to find out what’s going on in their child’s mind. At the crux of Parental Intelligence is finding out what your child is thinking, wondering, wishing, intending, and imagining. This ability brings the intrigue back to parenting.


In utero your baby hears the mother’s voice so that it’s the first sound that the baby keys into once outside the womb. Your partner’s voice comes next as most prominent if he or she is very involved with the newborn’s daily life. Then the baby learns the words of his everyday world as he grows monthly. Your baby is thinking and rapidly taking in the world around her.

At first all sounds are open to the developing brain. We restrict the sounds that become useful to the baby by the language we choose to speak. In bi- or multi-lingual homes the child retains the various sounds that they are open to them from the beginning and can adapt to learning more than one language early on.


Now your child has a full vocabulary and is interested in the world beyond the home. Their mind is full of questions and insights about their surroundings. As you engage them, you learn what interests them and lively conversations evolve.

You will be intrigued by your child if you not only listen but observe their behavior. Positive and negative behaviors are actually communications sending messages for parents to decode. If you decipher the messages, then you begin to help the child put that unruly or exciting behavior into words. Behind the behaviors if they are puzzling you may find problems that need expression to be solved. External behavior has internal meaning.


Now with Parental Intelligence you have become a parental “meaning-maker.” You discover the slammed door meant my girlfriend broke up with me. The temper tantrum meant I’m very sensitive when there’s a lot of noise around me — hypersensitive — when I’m given too many directions at once or asked to make too many choices. The ways to help your child cope with these problems now comes more easily and naturally because you know the causes for the negative behavior.

As your teen develops a sense of identity, it’s important to key into their minds closely. Having many conversations without interrupting them with ready solutions and advice often leads to deeper understanding. Simply ask your teens to tell you more about what’s on their minds and the flood gates can open if you’re genuinely attentive.

The Well-Being of Parents and Kids

Parenthood has become exciting because you know how your baby, your child, your teen thinks and processes the world. They may think things out in your way which is easy to follow or maybe they process new information entirely differently that you need to understand. Growing up in the age of fast technology, they may think very fast — faster that you. But if you have patience with them they will have patience with you. This furthers the parent-child bond and makes parenting the adventure you hoped for.

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

Originally published at medium.com

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Using Parental Intelligence Improves the Well-Being of Parents and Kids in Five Steps

by 11724

Co-Parenting The Parental Intelligence Way

by 11724
By goodmoments/Shutterstock

What You Need to Know About the Science Behind Your Baby’s Brain

by Dr. Gail Gross

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.


We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.