At Well-Bean we teach kids about a few key players in the brain. Our amygdala (or WATCH DOG) has an important job in protecting us from threats. We call it our Protective Brain because it is always looking out for our safety and our immediate happiness. When information comes into our brain and is interpreted as a threat, we respond immediately--this is our Fight, Flight or Freeze response system. Our Amygdala keeps us safe. However, our Amygdala isn’t so good at figuring out if something is truly a threat. Stress, worry, frustration or anger can cause our Amygdala to work overtime and instinctually cause us to react to situations without using our rational or thinking centers of the brain. When we teach kids to notice when their Amygdala is activated we can then teach them how to calm their amygdala so that they are better able to access another part of the brain which helps them manage their emotions and solve problems more skillfully.
Teaching kids breath work is key! Empowering kids to use their breath to calm their watch dog is one of the most powerful tools for self-regulation. When our body and brain are calm, we are better able to access our Prefrontal Cortex (PFC). When our emotions and experiences are viewed through the lens of the PFC we can respond versus react to them more mindfully; that’s why we call our PFC our Wise Owl.
The Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) is our learning, reasoning and thinking center of the brain—it is the part of the brain that can see the big picture. It helps us control our impulses, focus our attention, and also helps regulate emotions. When Wise Owl (PFC) is working and the Watch Dog (Amygdala) is calm we are better able to solve problems and manage feelings more mindfully.
At Well-Bean we teach kids to become more familiar with these key parts of the brain. This understanding lays the groundwork for learning how to monitor and regulate their own behavior. By calming themselves in the face of stress and strong emotions they’re better able to access their more thoughtful, compassionate, creative and capable selves.
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