Episode 175 The Brain and Fear Part 4

Life in the Downstairs Brain

“It’s time to get up and eat breakfast.”

“Could you please pick up your socks?”

“No, the math equation isn’t solved correctly. Try again.”

You ask or correct, and in response, the child retorts, “Why are you yelling at me? You always yell at me!”

Have your children ever said this to you? How about when you are talking in a normal tone and they are yelling? Confusing, huh?

These kids seem to be hearing things differently than the rest of us — and they are. They are operating in their downstairs brain, which means they are seeing things through the lens of hypervigilance. They are in survival mode. (This is an excerpt from the chapter “The Brain and Fear” from How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos)

Is your child stuck in a survival mode?

In this last in the series on the brain and fear, Kathleen delves into the difference between the upstairs and downstairs brain. She also offers some practical suggestions to implement. Grab a cup of coffee and join her and don’t forget to pick up your copy of How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos –https://amzn.to/35hsay3

The Brain and Fear Part 1

“Imagine a constant flow of cortisol and adrenaline — as if you spend every second of every day being chased by a bear with its claws bared and its teeth dripping with blood. You might be jumpy, flighty, overreative, and unable to sleep, feeling neither hungry nor thirsty, unable to read any of your body’s signals.” If your child is stuck in survival mode, he may feel like the description above (from How to Have Peace When Your Kids are in Chaos). Maybe you are stuck in a fear cycle yourself. If any of this applies to you or your children, grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen for part one of “The Brain and Fear.”

*Here are the links to the books discussed –http://kathleenguire.com/ and https://amzn.to/33hXInY

Movement Has Been Replaced By A Sedentary Lifestyle – Why Kids Need Play!

When I was growing up, I played outdoors a lot. We didn’t have a television because my mom thought it would rot our brains out.  I know that is extreme, the point was we filled our time with going outside, being creative and playing in the creek. There was not much time for being sedentary in my family. We played outside together, worked together, played long board games and my sisters and I made up lots of dances in the living room (and made mom watch our performances). What I didn’t know is that my parents were building my brain and giving me a healthy lifestyle.

How things have changed.

“A UK survey conducted by the National Trust found that modern children spend half as much time outdoors as their parents did, despite the fact that 96% of the parents surveyed felt it was important for kids to have a “connection to nature.””-www.theatlantic.com/magazine

Children need to play outside. It’s one of the building blocks of brain development. When kids play outside, they learn cause and effect. They test their limits. The first physical science experiments happen in our own backyards-

  • when a child throws a rock in the stream and the water smacks him in the face.
  • when a child jumps from a swing and feels the jarring in his knees.
  • when he climbs a tree and falls two feet.
  • when he builds a dam and stops up the water in the stream

These are all brain builders. A child who has time to test his limits, build, create and pretend is growing the logic portion of his brain.

Play helps children teach themselves to regulate their emotions.

“University of Denver researchers Elena Bodrova, Carrie Germeroth, and Deborah J. Leong found that children teach themselves to regulate their emotions and think before they act when they play. For example, if a child is pretending to be Olaf from Frozen, they may pretend they’re melting when they come inside or insist that they like warm hugs. In each case, they consider how their actions will correlate with how Olaf should act in a given situation.”- Whitbyschool.org

If anyone has ever played make believe with a child, you know that kiddos play out relationships. They play Mom, Dad, sister, brother, super heroes, soldiers, or fill in the blank. My eldest used to ask me to play with her. She just told me what to say and I said it while her character was the star of the show (kind of like her). This is one of the ways kids figure out relationships. Often we hear children playing with the same words they hear us using -“It’s okay, mom is here” or “If you do that again you are in trouble”.

Play gives children a chance to practice what they’re learning.
– Fred Rogers

The Scientific Re-do.

When children have had trauma in their lives and struggle with regulation, play can help fill in the gaps missed in brain development. Organized play with a point can help. Acting out a scenario the right way and the wrong way helps a child form new pathways in his brain. This is a non threatening way of doing a re-do. This can be done with puppets or just acting it out. Try acting out the wrong way to ask for something and then the wrong way. Kids definitely enjoy the wrong way, they may giggle, but the right way will stick!

Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain - unless it done with play, in which case it takes 10-20 repetitions._ - Dr. Karyn Purvis.png

Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain – unless it done with play, in which case it takes 10-20 repetitions.” – Dr. Karyn Purvis

Movement is Important.

Movement in play, indoors and outdoors are part of the pathway to healthy brain development. What a video game and screen time can’t do is amplify time, they simply spend it.

“Unlike television, nature does not steal time; it amplifies it.” Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods.

Organized play can teach skills and create a new synapse in the brain quicker, more efficiently and with more smiles than just going through the motions. While it’s tempting to fill time with screen time, remember you can’t get that time back. It’s spent on something that doesn’t have a great return. Educational show are great, but actually doing activities together -indoors or out- produce a greater reward.

*This is part of a Back to Basics Series! If you missed the beginning, start here or catch up the podcast here.

 

 

 

Have the Basics of Brain Development Been Left Behind?

We don’t often think about brain development in our children. Often we just follow the right steps and our kiddo’s brains develop. Until. Something. Is. Off.

I know. With my first child, I had some brain science under my belt from my education degree. I had a skeletal view of the developmental steps she should go through, but that’s as much as I thought about it. Maybe you’re like me. You’re doing some great things to improve your baby’s brain function. If so, think of this as a cheerleading session. I’m cheering you on! Great job! Maybe you are practicing some of these principles to grow you child’s brain and you are tired of doing the right thing. Maybe you are growing weary. Let me encourage you.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6: 9

The truth is most of the hard work you do to grow your child’s brain, no one sees. Not right now anyway. When you keep practicing the principles that grow your child’s brain, it will grow. You can’t open their brains and check it. Just as when you plant a seed in the ground, you water and wait. You don’t dig up the seed every few days and see if it sprouted. You wait and one day, it pushes a tiny green sprout through the soil. Your kiddos will follow suit. One day, your toddler will sign “more.” One day you child will regulate and use her words. One day, your five year old will recognize her need for a snack. This glimpses of brain growth will happen in bits and spurts. You can’t grow a tree in day, neither can you expect your kiddos brain to mature after a few practiced principles.

While genetics play a role in a developing brain in a newborn, scientists now know that relationships and experience shape the brain.

  When an infant is  born he has 100 billion neurons just waiting to connect. They are like loose wires flailing around waiting to connect. Think of your middle school science class and the electricity board, you have a light, a battery and a switch. You have to connect all three with wire. Then you flip the switch. You are the wire. Your babies brain already has the light and switch, just waiting to turn on. How do you connect the wires?

 Relationship grows the brain. 

This is one of the most important parts of brain growth. Relationship has the power to grow the brain. Interactions make the connections. This is why it is so important to engage with your child starting at infancy. The more you interact with your infant in positive ways, the more you grow the brain.

Here are some easy ways to grow an infants brain:

Baby wearing.

Singing to baby.

Comforting.

Soothing voice of mother.

Being on the shoulder of daddy.

Mother holding baby and gazing into her eyes.

Reading to your infant (you can start in utero).

Singing with and to your infant.

Playing music.

“A well-tended child is fed, cradled, and soothed when she cries from hunger or crankiness. This scene plays out hundreds of times in the first month of life alone. Through this exchange, the baby learns to trust that her needs will be met and that she can rely on people.” – The Connected Child

Repeated experiences also grow the brain.

Whatever the experiences are, that is where the brain will grow. If it is fearful, then the downstairs will grow (more on upstairs and downstairs brain here). If a child is soothed and learns how to talk things through and sort out feelings, the upstairs brain will grow.

This is the Hebbian Principle: What fires together, wires together.

An infant who is fed when hungry  regularly expects to be fed every time she is. She develops the belief that her needs will be met.

An infant who is soothed when upset develops the belief that her voice will be heard. She is on her way to healthy emotional intelligence.

An infant who is smiled at, laughed with, spoken to, read to, and sung to (no matter how off key) believes that she is important. She is developing social skills.

The basics of brain development are so basic, they usually come naturally. Maybe they come naturally to you. Think of this post as a booster shot. You are already doing all the right things to enable your infants brain to keep growing -Go YOU!

Want to learn more about this subject? Listen to our latest Podcast, “Baby Intelligence.

 

 

 

 

What am I Going to Eat?

I’ve been stuck in panic mode today. What am I panicking about? Food. Yep. That’s right, food. Weird, huh? I’m going on vacation to visit some of my favorite people, but there is always a nagging thought in the back of my head- What am I going to eat? Okay, it’s a shouting thought.

What am I going to eat_.png

My word for the year is “study”. It has been on my heart to study the mind.  God wants me to get my health in line. It’s been a constant learning curve for me since I was diagnosed with CFS and hypothyroidism in 2005, and Celiac disease in 2011.

I’ve read tons of articles on CFS and immune system diseases in general.  There is all sorts of advice for eating right, exercising to your ability level, getting an adequate amount of sleep and drinking enough water. All of those things are good. I need to do all of those things and so do you.

Last week, I talked a little bit on the website about falling back into old mindsets.

Sometimes our battle is not with what is happening to us, but an old mindset that keeps us trapped. The mindset that keeps trying to re-insert itself into my life is- you won’t have food to eat or you will get cross contamination and be miserable. That’s just no way to live. Fear of this sort is about something that could happen, but my body reacts as if it already were true.

Mindsets become strongholds. Strongholds form new pathways within our brains. When the new pathway forms, it eventually becomes a tree. It can become a toxic tree or a healthy tree, depending on what kinds of thoughts built the stronghold.

I’m not staying in that old mindset. I’m moving on.

We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.- 2 Corinthians 10: 5, 6

Are there some mindsets keeping you trapped? Are they stopping you from enjoying your life?