Daniel Siegel’s book The Whole-Brain Child is a valuable and practical resource for parents, filled with helpful tips and even a refrigerator sheet for quick reference. The book explains in simple terms how a child’s brain is wired and how it develops. The “upstairs brain”, the part that regulates emotions, reason and decision-making, is under construction until the mid-twenties. Children and teens are therefore more prone to being ruled by their “lower brain”, the impulsive part of the brain that initiates the fight or flight response – also known as the amygdala, the ancient, reptilian part of the brain that helps us to survive. In addition, the emotional right side of children’s brains often overrides the the logical left side of the brain, causing children to feel out of control.
Siegel tells parents how to integrate the various parts of the brain, and how to help their children develop the capacity for emotional self-regulation and increased happiness.
When parents better understand how their children are wired and how they develop, they are better able to nurture their growth and manage their emotions and behaviors.
Here are some key strategies:
Connect and Redirect: First connect to your child’s right brain – emotionally, by validating their emotions and experience so they feel “seen”. Then you can redirect your child with your left brain, such as setting limits or strategizing solutions.
Name It to Tame It: Corral raging right-brain behavior through left-brain storytelling, appealing to the left brain’s affinity for words and reasoning to calm emotional storms and bodily tension. For example, help your child to name and identify what’s happening in the moment.
Move it or Lose It: Use physical activities to shift your child’s emotional state. For example, after you connect with your child emotionally, have them jump up and down, or go for a run or a bike ride.
Remember to Remember: Make recollection part of your family’s daily life to help integrate your child’s memories by making implicit memories explicit.
Let the Clouds of Emotion Roll By: Guide your children when they are stuck on a negative emotion, and help them understand that feelings come and go like clouds.
SIFT: Help children pay attention to the Sensations, Images, Feelings, and Thoughts within them so that they can make better decisions and be more flexible.
Contact Lisa to attend her workshop on The Whole- Brain Child on Thursday, September 25th
10 Thomas Drive, Mill Valley