Do you find yourself as a parent or teacher struggling with your child's frequent tantrums or defiance? Do you (or others) consider your kid aggressive or oppositional? In the midst of sleep deprivation or yet another meltdown, it can be far too easy to focus on a child's behavior without pausing to consider what may be fuelling it. Underneath the surface of those tantrums and aggression, your child is likely experiencing a huge range of emotions that are frequently bubbling up (and out!). By understanding the brain-body connection, we can better interpret what our child's behavior is truly communicating - whether it's sadness, loneliness, frustration, sensory issues, fear, jealousy, a learning challenge, or anything else!
Dr. Dan Siegel coined the phrase “flipping your lid.” What does that mean?!
Under some stressful circumstances,
the prefrontal cortex or “lid”
is no longer able to manage the limbic system’s arousal.
What does that mean?
The prefrontal cortex is no longer dominant, or in charge.
Memory, organization, impulse control, attention, and emotion regulation
are affected (and impaired) to varying degrees.
The limbic system - or our stress responses - takes the lead.
What's the result?
Dr. Stuart Shanker created the Self-Reg framework for learning self-regulation. I work with the organization - The MEHRIT Centre in Canada - both as a consultant and teaching assistant. Self-Reg encourages parents and teachers to become “stress detectives” by digging deeper than the challenging behaviors we may see on the surface. We can examine the environment, the social and prosocial demands, and each child’s innate biological needs. Dr. Shanker reminds us: “See a child differently, you see a different child.”
We love the Hand/Brain model created by Dr. Siegel. It's an easy-to-grasp visual that's used by many respected scientists and child psychologists nowadays. I use it all the time with students, teachers and parents alike because it's so easy to make sense of! This video below - Why Do We Lose Control of Our Emotions - sums up the "flipping your lid" idea pretty well, with a focus on what happens to your child’s brain and body while under excessive stress. It's well worth a watch, either on your own or alongside your child to see what rich conversations might arise.