You are probably aware that your infant is born with an unfinished brain, and particularly so in the higher, thinking brain. As a parent, this is important to remember. There will be times when your child’s emotional brain, the lower brain, will overwhelm your infant. Primitive impulses will be expressed through bursts of distress exhibited by crying, rage, screaming, kicking, and even rolling around on the floor. This is not a picture of your child being naughty. This is a picture of a brain that has not fully developed. The higher thinking brain is not yet online in a way that allows for the calming of intense feelings.
You can help. As the parent, your emotional state has a direct effect on the key emotional systems in your child’s brain. Your frontal lobes directly impact the key arousal systems in your child’s body. Emotional energy flows from your brain to your child’s brain. Information is communicated from your body to your child’s body.
What does this mean? It means that when your child is distressed, he or she needs you to help calm the emotional storm. When you are emotionally responsive to your child, you are teaching and training your child’s thinking brain. You are nurturing your child’s frontal lobes to develop key connections and brain pathways that will in due time allow your child to independently calm down his or her distressed emotional, lower brain through the process of thinking and reasoning.
Start with a soft voice and a gentle touch to help calm the feeling storms.
Children remember the feeling of being cherished.
More to consider . . .
The lower brain has several genetically ingrained emotional systems. Three of these ingrained systems are rage, fear, and separation distress. These systems are set up at birth as a foundation for survival. Everyday experiences can trigger these systems. For example, fear can be triggered by a loud noise, rage can be triggered after bath time while being dressed for bed, and separation distress can be triggered if you leave the room.
As your child’s brain continues to develop, your child needs your soothing voice and physical comfort to help him or her calm down. You will be teaching your child how to bring an out-of-balance body and brain back to balance.