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Educator stresses importance of relationships with children

Dr. Gabor Maté facilitated a full-day workshop to approximately 300 parents, educators and health-care professionals at the Adams Lake Indian Band Conference Centre on Feb. 20. - Lynda Hooper photo
Dr. Gabor Maté facilitated a full-day workshop to approximately 300 parents, educators and health-care professionals at the Adams Lake Indian Band Conference Centre on Feb. 20.
— image credit: Lynda Hooper photo

Dr. Gabor Maté is a physician  and  bestselling author from Vancouver, whose books have been published in nearly 20 languages worldwide. Maté spoke to an audience of approximately 300 educators, health professionals and parents Monday, Feb. 20 at the Adams Lake Indian Band Conference Centre.

Conference spokesperson Marnie Baxter remarked: “The audience turnout is great, a very positive response to Dr. Maté’s full-day workshop.”

The workshop title, Why Relationships Matter, covered what causes developmental problems, bullying and addictions, and how to solve them.

There was detailed discussion for professionals, outlining the mental-health implications of early childhood emotional loss, whether due to abuse in the family or stress on the parents. The impact of the environment on brain development was discussed, along with ways of recognizing and helping heal the negative consequences of early loss.

Importance of early child rearing was emphasized, considering environmental impact on short- and long-term development, through understanding the internal dynamics of a child.

Maté stressed that relationships are fundamental to functioning brain-circuit growth, especially access to a consistently available, emotionally stable, non-stressed, nurturing parent or caregiver.

He spoke of ‘The biology of loss’ and how it can be passed through generations: intrapartum stress, early separation, postpartum stress and childhood abuse. Maté said, “Implicit memory has a life-long impact when people are influenced by past experience without any awareness that they are remembering.”

He continued: “If our society were truly to appreciate the significance of children’s emotional ties throughout the first years of life, it would no longer tolerate children growing up, or parents having to struggle, in situations that cannot possibly nourish healthy growth.”

Peer orientation versus parental relationships was explained, noting how attachment supports parenting and child-rearing. He said there are six ways of attaching: senses, sameness, belonging and loyalty, significance, feeling and being known.

When parents are engaged in child rearing, attachment or the drive from the child for physical and  emotional closeness and contact are a result.

Peer orientation can stunt healthy development through the flight from feeling, immaturity and lack of individuality, aggression, the making of bullies and victims, precocious and inappropriate sexuality, and difficulty learning.

Maté gave instruction on ‘how to hold onto our kids’ (or to reclaim them) through, collecting the child, inviting dependence, making relationship the priority, having structures and restrictions, and providing attachment-friendly discipline.

For more information on Maté and his work, go to: www.drgabormate.com/.

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