I find this one super enlightening. It comes up again and again! See that tree pattern with the branches stretching all over? All that stretching, all those branches, all those pathways are built within the brain to process logic and reason. BUT, get this, they only get built or built extensively, IF the social system is well taken care of.
This is why they say that kids with strong emotional skills, kids that have experienced routine empathy, lead more successful lives. Their brains are bigger! Ok, maybe not physically bigger, but they have more pathways! This means that when your kid melts down because you paused the audio story in the middle of the sentence instead of during a pause between sentences and throws herself on the floor and loses her shit, when that happens the way you respond (oh, okay the way I respond, since this is my kid we're talking about) helps her access her executive function. Meaning, by using empathy I chill out her social system and her executive brain functioning switches back on and she and I can discuss audio-story-pausing-etiquette. And if I do this empathy thing regularly, throughout her development, I am supporting further brain development, giving her brain a chance to build more and more pathways.
In other words when you help yer kid through empathy you give them access to their whole brain. And when you do this repeatedly, as the norm, you allow them to grow millions more pathways than they ordinarily would. Pathways are good. Empathy makes geniuses.
When children aren't supported emotionally through intense emotion they have no choice but to operate from their reflexive system, from instinct. Remember what main instincts humans have? Fight or Flight, baby. This is why sometimes, during intense emotion, kids will physically lash out. If they don't have emotional support they have to operate from this zone because access to executive function is blocked. Sometimes when kids "act out" their parents punish them for making the "wrong choice", which is sad because actually no choice, no logic is being employed when a child is operating from the reflexive part of their brain. Choice only becomes an option if the child is given empathy for the emotions they are experiencing.
Bottom line? You want to support the shit out of your child's social system.
- talking it out
- taking time
Want more? If you are local to Missoula come to the workshop!
October 20th, Open Way Mindfulness Center (702 Brooks Ave) 2pm - 4pm. $50
And another! November 23rd, Meadowsweet Herbs 2pm - 4pm $50
Not local? We're taking this on the road! Want to host a workshop?
email me: firstname.lastname@example.org