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Understanding What Part Of The Brain Controls Emotions So You Can Explain Mindfulness To Your Children

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August 11, 2022
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under Blog, Meditation

The Amygdala is the part of your brain which controls emotions and practicing mindfulness calms the amygdala and thereby reconnects us to our calm and clear senses.

Mindfulness helps us regain the ability to pay attention, achieve emotional regulation, body regulation, empathy, and the ability to self-calm.

How The Amygdala Controls Your Emotions

The Amygdala plays a huge role in this because it determines emotional responses by classifying sensory input as either pleasurable or threatening. Anything threatening is blocked by the amygdala and thereby prompts a reflexive reaction to the situation.  These reactions are: fight, flight, or freeze.

 

The tricky thing about the amygdala is that it can’t see a difference between things we think are threats and true dangers. Because it can’t see the difference, the amygdala often triggers “false alarms'' and potentially problematic reactive behavior.

 

For instance, many people will freeze in stressful situations, like public speaking or when taking a test. Of course, neither of those activities are life-threatening, but our amygdala forces us to stop our rational thinking and we then start to act impulsively and in a reactive manner.

How To Counteract That Tricky Amygdala

While you can’t necessarily tell your amygdala what to do, you can do things to calm it down. For example, keeping track of your breath or counting to ten when you’re angry or sad gives the amygdala time to figure out that even though the situation isn’t great, it’s not necessarily a life threatening situation so you don’t need to go into the flight, fight, or freeze modes. T

 

The most basic mindfulness exercise for children is getting them to focus on breathing. By doing this exercise, controlling their breath can help them become less reactive when thet are stressed out.

 

Additionally, intentional breathing helps kids calm their bodies by slowing the heart rate and lowering their blood pressure.  In turn, when their heart rate slows and the blood pressure decreases, they can improve focus and make better decisions because the amygdala is making the prefrontal cortex freak out more than it needs to.

Explaining Mindfulness In Way Your Child Can Understand it

Mindfulness Is like Superman, or Iron Man – it swoops in and calms any situation down.  Lex Luthor is making the citizens of Metropolis scared because of what he’s doing? Superman flies in to the rescue and takes care of the people.

 

Thanos is about ready to snap his infinity gauntlet and the world is worried? Iron man comes in to stop Thanos.

 

Mindfulness helps us to calm down, and this, in turn, calms the amygdala so that it allows the information flow to the prefrontal cortex—that part of our brains that helps us make good choices. When we’re calm, we can more easily be mindful and make good choices.

 

The more we practice mindfulness, and allow Superman and Iron Man to save the day, the more we’ll experience calm moments.

 

How Do Practice Mindfulness?

 

When you feel overwhelmed, stop to take a few deep breaths and exhale slowly.

 

What is the emotion you are feeling? Are you angry? Sad? Tired? Nervous?

 

Next, just breathe. Breathe and really focus hard on those breaths. Are you breathing in your stomach, your chest, or your nose?

 

Where are your hands? Are they touching your body? Or, are they on a surface? Is it cold, warm, or does it feel funny?

 

What do you smell, and what sounds do you hear?

Have your child do this before they go to school, and before they go to bed – DON’T JUST WAIT UNTIL THINGS ARE BAD!

 

The more they train in mindfulness, the easier it will be for them to be mindful and self-soothe when they’re actually in a stressful situation.



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