Updated: Mar 31, 2022
Why your child doesn’t think or act rationally?
Why can’t my child be more rational???
Do you often wonder why your child don’t think or act rationally?
Do you feel frustrated that you don’t understand why your child don’t listen even after you told them multiple times?
Does your child have frequent emotional meltdown or unable to express their feelings?
Why does your child not seem to absorb what their teachers are saying?
Why does your teenager do such “immature” thing?
Wish your child can “think” what’s the right thing to do?
How is it other people’s kids seem so much easier to parent?
The Upstairs and Downstairs Brain
I really love how Dr. Siegel explains our brain development using simple metaphors of the upstairs and downstairs inside a house.
(1) Our brain develops from downstairs to upstairs.
(2) Our downstairs brain comprises brain stem and the limbic region, which are located in the lower pars of the brain. The downstairs brain is responsible for basic functions (like breathing & blinking), for fight and flight reactions, and strong emotions (anger, fear) and movement (like flinching from pain or surprise). This is WELL-DEVELOPED even at birth.
(3) Our upstairs brain comprises the cerebral cortex including he middle pre-frontal cortex. The upstairs brain is responsible for thinking, imagining, planning and this is where we use this part of the brain for sound decision making and planning, control over emotions and body, empathy, morality, etc.
(4) For our child (and us!) to function optimally, we want our upstairs and downstairs brain to integrate well.
This is why our child doesn’t think or act rationally!
I was shocked when I found out that our upstairs brain only begin to develop at the age of around 8-10 years old and does not fully develop until 18-22 years old! In fact, some recent research showed that some people’s upstairs brain does not develop until age of 30 years old!
But, I guess this fact makes a lot of sense after I know, particularly when it comes to making sense of children or teenager’s behaviours. And, perhaps even my behaviours when I was young! So, the next time you judge a child’s behaviour, bear in mind this fact that their brain is simply not fully developed yet to perform all the higher cognitive functions!
What does this mean for parenting our child?
Now that we learn and accept this fact, we know even more importantly that we play a super important role in parenting. We are the BEST role model for our children, and we can improve our own communication and decision making skills especially in front of our children so that they can in turn learn from the best teacher in the world!
Keen to explore more new skills to be an even better teacher to your child? Check out my upcoming Emotion Coaching workshop for Parents!