Learning to look after their greatest asset…
It honestly astounds me that on their journey through school, children will learn SO much stuff that they’ll forget by next week, that they’ll never use or need to know, and yet we barely teach them anything about themselves!
Such as the adolescent brain… It undergoes massive re-construction, which explains the simultaneous identity crisis, social circle crisis, and I-have-absolutely-no-idea-what-I-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life-crisis that many of us experienced.
🙋♀️ Who else would’ve quite liked to have known that at the time?!
If it was up to me, learning how their brains work would be part of school for every young person, everywhere. Because, after all, every thought, decision, action, behaviour and belief come from there!!!
A sea-change on the horizon isn’t looking likely for the curriculum, so it’s one of my [many] missions to make it easier for children; and their grown-ups; to learn to love and look after their biggest asset; their brains!
Enter the ‘upstairs/downstairs brain’ model. It’s a simple way for us-and young people themselves-to understand what the hell’s going on in their heads!
For example, when they’re stressed, angry, frustrated, anxious etc., their ‘downstairs brain’ is in charge. It’s the home of the survival reflexes, hence why it’s reactive and impulsive, which means it does very little thinking, if any…
So, ideally our kids should be functioning from the ‘upstairs brain’; it’s switched on, rational, connected, logical, solves problems and makes decisions. But here’s the problem…
…Every bit of information that travels through the brain starts at the bottom of the stairs, where there’s a kind of ‘inner traffic light’. In an ideal world, the downstairs brain says ‘this is ok’, the green light says ‘go’, and the upstairs brain can do its job.
But if it says ‘this isn’t ok’, the inner red light says stop! The threat is perceived on instinct alone, and the fight/flight response is activated before the brain’s even had chance to think…
This basically means that brains screw up on a regular basis, whatever your age… especially if you’re already stressed or under pressure.
So if you find yourself-or you children-flipping their lid simply over something seemingly trivial, that’s why.
A misfiring ‘fight/flight’ response is efficient, but it also has a lot of problems to answer for.
Most of us; kids included; have so much on our plate we’re basically running up and down that staircase all day!
So next time your kids (or you!) are beginning to struggle, hold in mind that low level anxiety or frustration; too many demands, expectations, juggles and general overwhelm; all take us one more step down the staircase.
Don’t wait for them to reach the bottom step! By the time they do, ‘thinking’ will be completely offline! How can you step in and use the ‘upstairs/downstairs’ model to get them back up?
Can you talk to them about the ‘staircase in their brain’?
Can they identify where they are on the stairs?
With or without your help, can they work out how to get back up, and stay up!?
Help understand young brains even better by getting hold of our FREE pdf; “5 Daily Ways To Emotionally Healthy Brains”. Just opt in to be added to our list if you want insights like these to land straight in your inbox! 👇