If you have ever JUST HAD ENOUGH of your kids driving you crazy and you wonder what’s happening in their brain? If you relate to this, just stop right now and breathe deeply. Breathe in. And out. Again. There you go! Did you feel your shoulders come down from up around your ears? Did you feel your jaw, hands, stomach unclench? If you are still feeling physical stress over the thought of your kids driving you crazy, breathe again. After taking these deep breaths, you can be in a better brain space to “hear” what this article is all about. You are not alone. Here is help for when your kids are driving you crazy!
In the Lowest Brain Centers
When you (or your kids) feel stressed, overwhelmed, or frustrated, functioning starts happening out of the lowest brain centers. This is from where the “fight or flight” response comes. When this happens, what you need most is to feel SAFE. So, take three slow, deep breaths. And then say to yourself or kids, “You are safe. I am going to keep you safe.” You can also say out loud Biblical Truths like:
- The Lord keeps me safe. 2 Thessalonians 3:3
- I am always safe in God’s Hand. John 10:28
- God will never leave me. Deuteronomy 31:6
- God is holding me right now. Isaiah 41:10
- God is with me in troubled times. Psalm 46:1
- The Lord restores my soul. Psalm 23
- My help comes from the Lord. Psalm 121
Printing and posting Biblical Truths like these in your home can help you be reminded of what is TRUE of you in Jesus Christ. Once you feel SAFE, you have moved out of the lowest centers of your brain. You are no longer in “fight or flight” mode, but you may start to say or do things you swore you’d never say or do to your kids. 😬
In the Middle Brain Centers
In the emotional or middle brain centers is where you hold memories of all your own junk. Like when YOU drove you own parents crazy and how they reacted to you. When this happens, what you need most is to feel LOVED. When (you or) your child is functioning here, it’s most helpful for you to give empathy. This sounds like this: “That’s hard. You wanted to _____ and you can’t”. Still taking slow deep breaths to download your calm into your child. Or this: “You seem frustrated. That didn’t go the way you wanted it to go.”
Here are some Biblical Truths to speak out loud for you and your children:
- I am a child of God. John 1:12
- I am not condemned by God. Romans 8:1
- I am accepted by Christ. Romans 15:7
- Jesus is my friend. John 15:15
- God gives me all I need. Philippians 4:19
- God loves me and has chosen me. 1 Thessalonians 1:4
- The Holy Spirit dwells in me. 1 Corinthians 6:19
- I am chosen, holy, and blameless. Ephesians 1:4
In the Frontal Brain
Once you have taken deep breaths, and feel SAFE and LOVED, you are able to access your BRILLIANCE by functioning out of the executive centers of the brain – otherwise knowns as the prefrontal cortex. THIS is the place where you – and your kids – can solve problems!
Building relational connections with others creates neural connections in our brains: Connected brains are healthy brains!
Your prefrontal cortex is located just behind your forehead. Think, “Kiss your brain,” touch your fingers to your lips and then touch your forehead. Now, this part of the brain is not fully formed until after age 25, which doesn’t mean you don’t have access to it until then. But, it does mean you need to adjust your expectations regarding your children’s ability regarding planning, making decisions, and moderating social behavior.
For example, it is developmentally appropriate for a three year old to need to be reminded to wipe his face after eating. But less socially acceptable to have to remind a 23 year old! For teenagers, you have to understand that you need to be their prefrontal cortex. They are developmentally more likely to act impulsively, misread social cues and emotions, or engage in dangerous or risky behavior.
You can help them learn to pause and consider the consequences of their actions or change inappropriate behaviors by first being CONNECTED with them. But this connection can only happen when YOU are functioning in the higher centers of our own brains! It’s so important that you first understand why you do the things you do, and know how to emotionally regulate yourself so that you can best build connections with your children that will last throughout your lives!
Kate Fraiser is a Parent Coach with Connect Point Moms helping you create stronger relational connections with the children in your life. This starts with being aware of your own stuff so you can BE PRESENT with your children in the moment you’re in, and then knowing and using the best ways to communicate with them. For quick and helpful parenting videos, find her on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, or Facebook.