Taking Control of Your Emotional Brain
Summer Term 2019
At birth we are born with a fully functioning Emotional and Reptile brain, whilst our Thinking brain continues to develop until we are 24. This is why, as children, we can often become consumed by our emotions without the ability to explain or reason why. During our childhood, we learn to manage our feelings, thoughts and actions by developing coping strategies and beliefs. These strategies and beliefs, whether helpful or unhelpful, are frequently stored in our memory and often progress into our unconscious habits for life. Habits are therefore not just actions but can also be repeated beliefs.
This term we will practice 10 unconscious beliefs and behaviours and turn them into daily habits that guide us through life.
A WEEK BY WEEK SNEAKY PEEK
Week 1. Habit 1. Smiling! – The Ability to Develop a Positive Outlook
Aim: We see how the simple act of choosing our expressions can affect our mood. We compare different facial expressions and how we can affect other people around us.
We ask the question: – “How do you want to feel?”
Brain: We dig deep and step into the Amygdala, our emotional control centre. We understand the workings behind our emotions and our body’s built in survival mechanism.
Strategy: We learn ways to ‘flip our thoughts’ to create a positive outlook in ourselves and others.
Week 2. Habit 2. Understanding Mistakes! The Ability to Manage Our Emotions!
Aim: Mistakes are part of everyday life. They have many causes such as accidents, lapses in attention and even acts of nature. They can result in unwelcome outcomes and challenges, which in turn can grow into unnecessary anxiety.
We ask the question: – “What would you like as the outcome of the mistake?”
Brain: Responsibility is part of our Thinking Brain. We look at why we often find this habit difficult.
Strategy: We role play 4 scenarios and learn to laugh about the Apple Tree!
Week 3. Habit 3. Saying Sorry! – The Ability to Apologise Affectively.
Aim: A simple apology can diffuse many complicated and stressful situations and can create positive emotions, making everyone feel better. We have a look at acts of kindness.
We ask the question: – “What could you do to put things right?”
Brain: Our Emotional Brain and our Thinking Brain react differently when hearing an apology. We delve deeper and understand why.
Strategy: How to apologise effectively. We create a structure of a sincere apology to practice, enabling us to take responsibility and accountability when necessary.
Week 4. Habit 4. Being Kind to Others! The Ability to be Proactive & Assertive Aim: Being kind to others can be an unselfish act or an act for our own personal gain. The two generally go hand in hand, because when we are kind to others it usually makes us feel good.
We ask the question: – “How would you want to react if someone annoys or upsets you?”
Brain: Recognising our Emotional and Survival instincts – how our built-in self defence kicks in when we are unkind. What is Oxytocin and how it creates a sense of well-being.
Strategy: Being Assertive and using an explanation. Learning a Fixed Response.
Week 5. Habit 5. Talking About Our Feelings! The Ability to Recognise Perspective.
Aim: Talking about feelings and also situations can help one to manage them and give perspective. Talking out loud, either alone or to someone reduces stress levels, whilst ‘bottling them up’ can lead to intrusive thoughts that won’t go away and anxiety. Hanging onto guilty feelings can be very destructive and can often appear as the source of low self-esteem. Understanding and managing feelings of guilt begins by accepting that we all make mistakes and can be seen as a learning point.
We ask the question: – “What would my best friend say?”
Brain: By expressing our feelings the mind has the chance to let the Emotional Brain air issues that are bothering it or causing distress, whilst the Thinking Brain has a chance to listen and process.
Strategy: Normalising the situation / Drawing the situation / Changing the situation.
Week 6. Habit 6. Asking for Help! The Ability to Collaborate Socially & Emotionally.
Aim: Asking for help can be seen by many as a weakness. However, if we are able to learn when to ask and what help to ask for and from whom, it can be a great strength. To develop independence, we first need to learn through positive role modelling and teamwork.
We ask the question: – “How can I be a positive role model to others?”
Brain: Managing our behaviours and emotions is a very difficult thing to do for all of us, especially for a child whose Thinking Brain has not fully formed. The Emotional brain can often hi-jack the Thinking Cortex’s and being able to recognise when this is happening and being able to ask for help is a big step towards independence.
Strategy: We role play managing our emotions. We unpick – Why we may not ask for help – and come up with a ‘helping mantra’.
Week 7. Habit 7. Showing Good Manners! The Ability to Make Choices.
Aim: Being polite and well-mannered are habits that are usually formed early in life. However, manners are not just about our saying ‘please and thank you’, they include, amongst others – ‘answering back’ ‘disrupting a class’ ‘talking when someone else is talking’. We look at how we define manners and the benefits of displaying them.
We ask the question: – “What do you consider as bad manners?”
Brain: We look at what can happen to our manners when our emotional Brain takes over our Thinking Brain. We consider how rudeness can affect our friendships.
Strategy: We role play scenarios of manners in different situations and practice ‘good manners.’
Week 8. Habit 8. Trying New Things! The Ability To ‘Step Out of Our Comfort Zone’
Aim: Trying new things can enrich a child and improve their physical and psychological health. It can also help children to develop confidence and independence. However, it can also prove stressful due to ‘fear and failure’, low self-esteem and excessive worrying.
We ask the question – “When was the last time that you did something new?”
Brain: We compare the Emotional and the Thinking Brain response to trying ‘new things’ and learn how the two working together can create a positive “I Can Do” mindset.
Strategy: “I’m in BEST Club Get Me Out of Here!”
Week 9. Habit 9. Accepting “No” means “No”! The Ability to Overcome Emotions
Aim: It is natural and healthy for anyone to react when they can’t have what they want or when things don’t go the way they want them to. However, reacting isn’t usually helpful. Over this lesson we create an Action Plan to enable our Thinking Brain to overcome and take control of emotions
We ask the question: – “When did you last overreact to a situation?”
Brain: – Our Emotional Brain is impulsive, doesn’t think through consequences and follows natural instincts. We look at how easy it is to overreact, why it does and what we can do.
Strategy: Creating an Emotional Action Plan.
Week 10. Habit 10. Learning to Share! The Ability to Empathise.
Aim: Sharing is a very useful habit to learn, as it helps to establish and maintain friendships, aids learning, improves interpersonal skills and promotes collaboration. Many children find the idea of sharing things with other children difficult to accept. Here we explore the many advantages to sharing and install some useful behaviours and values to help guide us through the process.
We ask the question: – “When couldn’t you or wouldn’t you share something. Why?”
Brain: The sense of sharing is built very strongly into our Emotional Brain with our need to connect with others. However, managing strong emotions and understanding fairness when sharing doesn’t quite go to plan are areas still developing in our Thinking Brain.
Strategy: Seeing the big picture and looking through someone else’s eyes.
Week 11. Celebrating our Habits. Putting them Altogether and Creating “Win – Win” Situations.
Aim: We look back at the last 10 weeks and the 10 habits we have practiced. We look at common problems – bedtime / bath-time / homework / tidying bedrooms and problem – solve how we may use our habits to change them into ‘Win – Win’ situations for everyone.
We ask the question: – “Is there a better way of achieving what I want?”
Brain: Children typically act on their Emotional Brains, in order to protect themselves from danger and in turn can often become defiant. We learn how to use our thinking Brain to problem solve.
Strategy: Creating a “Win – Win” Situation.