Monday, June 25, 2012

Understanding the Brain

Understanding the Brain is a crucial part of being a good parent.  Jane Nelson uses a model of the brain, called  Brain in the Palm of Your Hand from Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell's book Parenting From the Inside Out to explain the brain to parents and teacher in her Positive Discipline Courses.   Basically, when we get frustrated or angry or irritated we react to the situation in a fight or flight mode, not a rational mode.  Our emotions become uncontrolled and our thinking goes out the window.  This is what they refer to as flipping our lid.  The Positive Discipline parenting tool card explains why and how to deal with a flipped lid.  Instead of reacting to something with fight or flight we need to WAIT.  When either person has a flipped lid problems can't be solved and people need time to cool off and access the rational part of our brain.  Taking a positive time-out or putting the problem on a family meeting agenda will allow time to cool off.

I think this tool is important in so many ways.  Parents and children need to understand that when we flip our lids we don't make the best decisions, and that it is possible to regain that control by cooling off.   Not only is this a good thing to know about ourselves, but other people as well.  When people flip their lids they lose control.  It is not anyone else's fault.  Children who understand this will not only feel confident in their own ability to get back to calm and after flipping their lid, but they also won't feel responsible for upsetting a parent who has flipped their lid.

Understanding the possibility of the flipped lid and the ability to recover from it is the first step.  Once that has happened an apology might be necessary if your flipped lid caused you to do or say hurtful things to someone else.  Another important follow up would be to take a look at what happened right before your flipped your lid.  Was there a certain feeling, or thought?  If so, these can be used as cues the next time a flip is coming and you can use them to stop yourself from going over the edge.

I have an amazingly easy lid to flip, and I think I have passed it on to my daughter.  We work together to avoid flipping our lids, but we also have to be very careful that we do not allow one flipped lid to cause another.  We both like to take time-outs and ask for hugs when we feel a lose of control coming on.  I know that it is not fun to be the person who has a flipped lid or the observer.  Both feels bad.  Even more reason to try to work really hard to avoid getting to that point and to teach your children ways to calm down before they get to that point as well.

Next week I will talk about: Back Talk.

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