This powerful lesson was taken from Dr. Daniel Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson’s book, The Whole-Brain Child, a must read resource for parents, caretakers, and professionals working with children.
What does the expression Flip Your Lid mean? Losing our cool or as Bart Simpson would say, “Don’t have a cow, man.” WE ALL FLIP OUR LIDS! It is an expression used to explain what happens to our brains during times of high emotion, excitement, and stress. This lesson is helpful to learn at any age and can be a powerful tool for handling big emotions and helping a person stay regulated.
When the whole brain works together, we are in tuned to others, flexible, and in balance. Our emotions are regulated. Show your child an example of a brain using your fists. Simply hold up a closed fist with fingers covering thumbs (fingers are the prefrontal cortex- hugging the limbic system). In this whole brain state, children and adult are less likely to Flip A Lid. This changes, however, when our limbic system feels threatened. When our limbic system (which controls our emotions) feels threatened, it overrides the prefrontal cortex (which controls our thinking, reasoning, flexibility) and we are less likely or no longer able to respond in a clear, concise way. This is when we Flip A Lid. Show this to your child by lifting your four fingers up in the air as a flipped lid. Examples when a child’s lid might be flipped? When a child hears the answer no to television, no to a new puppy, no candy before dinner, no to an item in a store, etc.. An example of a parent’s flipped lid? Struggles with homework, messy bedrooms, getting a child out the door in the morning, etc.
Helping children handle big emotions is crucial. How we name our experiences is also key. For example: instead of the word drama, we could use the phrase: dysregulated brains. This shift of perspective creates a safe space for children and adults to tame emotions and learn healthy, life long tools to handle big emotions. When someone has ‘flipped their lid’ we can now help that person to ask herself/himself: What can I do to stay regulated, help myself get regulated and/or help my friend do the same?
BREATHING BREAKS AND OTHERS TOOLS
As we learn to train our brains, we can begin to take responsibility for our emotions. Remember, dealing with strong emotions is tough for all ages! Both adults and children can learn to identify what the feeling is like just before experiencing a flipped lid. When we feel a strong emotion (negative or positive) start to bubble up inside, we can stop our lid from flipping by taking an action such as deep breathing. If our lid has flipped (and it will!), we can make a repair. Drinking water/staying hydrated, squeezing a squishy toy, taking deep breaths, counting to ten, blowing bubbles, and talking to a safe person are just a few ways for us to regulate our emotions. Practicing these actions in times of calm, with intention, and in a fun manner will strengthen relationships while providing strong tools for everyone’s personal tool boxes.
With you on this journey and honored to be Partners In Connection,