Wow! President Nelson’s announcement about using the real name of our Church—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, instead of the word “Mormon” to name ourselves or our church–really hit me at a time when I am working with someone on updating my blog. Being a “Fierce Mormon Mother” like my Grandmother Adams has been such a mantra in my life. I have been thinking and thinking about renaming this blog, so stay tuned! I also had to renew my domain name and lost a few days there, where I couldn’t get on, so I am ready to write and post again.
I am just back from Education week at BYU. One of my favorite classes, where I had some real insights, was Laurie Prusso Hatch’s class on Christlike Parenting. One of the Big Ideas she taught was from the book below, which I am currently reading.
The Big Idea is teaching your children how to self-regulate their emotions by teaching them how their brain works with a simple exercise. One of the authors, of Parenting From the Inside Out, Dr. Daniel Siegel, demonstrates how to do this, below. It is 2 and half minutes long.
Here is a Ted Talk with Dr. Siegel, which is much longer–about 18 minutes– but so worth it, where he talks more about reflection, regulation and relationships, using the same hand model.
My husband came to Laurie’s class on Friday and was also intrigued by her demonstration of your brain using your hand. The above videos shows how you can get overwhelmed by something, feel a surge of emotion, and “flip your lid”, or lose control of yourself. Your frontal cortex gets overloaded by some strong emotion, like anger, or you can get scared, and your children will be able to see why your brain gets overloaded, or in other words, you “flip your lid”. Dr. Siegel said that his team teaches this in schools to help children as young as kindergarteners. When they are taught how their brain works they can start to understand what makes them mad, or angry or scared and how they and their brain can get overwhelmed and how to not “flip out”.
Sister Hatch gave an example of this with a playground story. One little boy has been playing hard and it is above 100 degrees. Another little girl says, “Your face is red, my mom says when your face is red, that you are mad.” The little boy says, “I’m not mad, I am just hot.”
“No”, says the girl. “You’re face is red, You are mad.”
“I am not mad, I am hot.”
“No! You are mad! Your face is red!”
The more the boy calmly states he is only hot, the more the girl insists that he is mad.
Finally the boy, in exasperation, “flips”–pushes her and gets into trouble. If this boy had been taught to self-regulate, he would have many other options than pushing. He could find a teacher, or turn away from this aggressive girl or maybe repeat a phrase that he has learned to help to articulate his emotions, like, “You don’t know me, that’s not what I was doing,” and turn away. This is such a great and powerful lesson to teach to your children and preconditioning them, with a story like this, will help show them what their different options are.
We were talking about this at dinner on Sunday afternoon, and my daughter’s friend said, “I experienced that surge, yesterday. Of the six of us in our apartment, 2 of us were left in town on the actual day to clean and get checked out. One guy, in particular, had left early, and left a bunch of his stuff in the kitchen and in his room. It was irritating to clean around his stuff and do his cleaning job, but it was just the way it was., We were working through the reality of the situation and accepting it. When this absent room-mate happened to call me, as I was still cleaning, and wanted me to pick him up at the airport today, I had a moment of, “WHAT?!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”
Sister Hatch said this understanding is helpful when you see two of your children fighting, and instead of being reactive and punishing them, find out what happened, who was pushing whose buttons, and helping them to understand what each other ‘s boundaries are and why that would be upsetting. It’s being a preconditioning parent, where your children are prepared ahead of time for the rough world of school and playground–and with their own siblings. It will also help your relationship with your children so they can understand why you get overwhelmed and why you flip out. As you reflect, like Dr. Siegel explains in the second video, you can work with your triggers, analyzing them, so you can understand why you have that surge of emotion.
Let me know how this goes in your family!