As our series of assemblies about Growth Mindset continues, we spent time last week thinking about what happens when despite ones very best efforts things still seem impossible. The children were very honest when sharing their experiences of when this has happened to them and of the associated emotions they feel of frustration and anger. I shared with the children what happens in our brains when these emotions take over and we sometimes ‘flip our lid’. We looked again at how the thinking part of our brain (Pre-Frontal Cortex) wraps snugly over the feelings part of our brain (Amydgala) and of how it usually does a really good job of helping us control our feelings. We may feel worried, sad or disappointed but our ‘thinking’ brain lets us know that things will get better and will probably work out solutions for this. However, sometimes the emotions are so big and powerful they push our good thinking away and take control which can lead to us having immense feelings of anger, frustration and possibly even tantrums. We used Dan Siegel’s ‘Hand Model of the Brain’ to illustrate this more vividly for the children.
Once the children had some understanding of how the brain is behaving we then read a super story called, ‘Mind Hug’ by Emily Arber and Vanessa Lovegrove in which two children, Jack and Sarah, discover a superpower in their mind. The superpower is using ‘big breaths’ to calm the mind when it gets so full of big emotions that it just doesn’t know what to do. The children enjoyed practicing this technique and also enjoyed listening to a song called ‘Belly Breathe’ that we have also started to learn.
It is so important in our busy world to give children the armour and information they need to help them deal with their emotions, which at this age are still relatively new to them and so can be even more overwhelming and difficult to make sense of. However, by consciously talking about what is happening chemically in their bodies and helping them begin to tune in to how their bodies physically feel when big emotions take over, should support their mental health and well-being positively and effectively.
(link to ‘Belly Breathe’ song)