My Brain Team: What To Do When Emotions Run High is a therapeutic resource that teaches emotion regulation and mindfulness skills to children ages 6 and up.
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How can I help my child with emotional self-regulation?
A pretty common concern I hear from parents is that their child loses control over their emotions and can go from 0 to 100 very quickly. That is, they see that their child becomes overwhelmed, upset, anxious, and/or angry both easily and often over seemingly small things or situations. It is as if their child’s emotions have taken over (or have essentially hijacked their thinking brains) and there is no way to rationally talk to or reason with them. Parents often want to know how to help their child calm down and regulate their emotions.
My clinical approach is to first help parents and children understand what is happening in their brains. When our emotions, such as anger and anxiety, run high and feel overwhelming, we tend to react impulsively (as a way of coping) and without thinking things through. That is, for both children and adults alike, the same “fight-flight-freeze-faint” (4Fs) response is triggered when faced with any possible threat and danger (whether the threat is real or imagined).
Even though this type of 4Fs response is designed to protect us and keep us safe (so that we, for example, do not touch a hot stove or run into the street without looking both ways), our brains sometimes get it wrong and steer us in the wrong direction. In these situations, which we can all relate to, we may find ourselves losing our patience and yelling (i.e., “fight” mode) when we did not mean to do so or running away and avoiding the issue (i.e., “flight” mode).
We all need to learn how to calm ourselves and bring our thinking brains back online in order to be able to make good choices.
By using mindfulness skills to help our reactivity turn into receptivity (and turning off the 4Fs alarm), we can become calmer and think more clearly so that we have the capacity to find solutions to deal with whatever we are facing.
My Brain Team
In My Brain Team: What To Do When Emotions Run High, we meet Liv, a fun and creative 10-year old girl, who explains how the brain works through the different imaginary characters in her brain team. We learn how the ‘amygdala feelers’ (like Lookout Lana and Security Sue) serve to protect us from danger while the ‘prefrontal cortex thinkers’ (like Calming Clara and Problem-Solving Patty) help us to calm down, solve problems, and relate to others. When emotions run high and the ‘feelers’ take control, the ‘thinkers’ go offline and it is hard to make good choices. We need to find ways to bring our thinking brain back online by using skills that allow us to pause, slow down, and take a few deep breaths. More specifically, in the book, Liv teaches five mindfulness practices to unify the brain team so that we can open ourselves to different possibilities.
Who This Book Is For:
This book is recommended as a therapeutic resource for children ages 6 to 12. However, I think that teens and adults will also enjoy the story and benefit from practicing the mindfulness skills.
How My Brain Team Can Help:
As human beings, we all have moments when we feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed or when we lose our cool and yell. We are always learning and trying or hoping to do better. This book teaches emotional regulation skills and provides an introduction to mindfulness practices including self-compassion exercises. Mindfulness brings our attention to the present moment, with acceptance, so as to help us from ruminating about the past and worrying about the future. And instead of criticizing ourselves for our mistakes, it can also benefit us to practice self-compassion and offer ourselves the kindness, understanding, and care we deserve. That is, we need to learn to treat ourselves the same way we tend to treat our dearest friends. Indeed, mindfulness and self-compassion practices have been shown to decrease stress, alleviate anxiety, and improve our general sense of well-being.
All that to say that this book is so much more than simply a story for kids.
This book offers parents and caregivers guidance into how to incorporate mindfulness practices into their child’s and their own lives in order to help regulate difficult emotions.
As book bonuses, you can download free printables and more mindfulness practices from both my website and from Plant Love Grow, including an extra worksheet adapted for classroom use. For more information about mindfulness, you may want to check out this post.
If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, mental health professional, or librarian and you are interested in learning more about this new therapeutic resource book for children aged 6 and up, click the image below.
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This book is also available in French and in Spanish.
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my gratitude to Elaheh Bos for her artistic vision for the characters in this story and for her helpful feedback.
I would also like to especially thank my amazing and generous husband, Gaby, who is my biggest supporter and our beautiful daughter, Lily, who keeps us on our toes!
I am really excited to know what you think about this book to help children regulate their emotions. I sincerely hope you will check out this awesome resource. And as always, I welcome your comments, questions, and feedback.