Teaching the 3 parts of the brain is a very important. This concept is crucial for all students and for all adults to learn since it helps with self-regulation. We teach that there are 3 main parts to the brain to consider when dealing with behaviour. The brain stem or reptilian brain which deals with survival. It controls all the involuntary functions. The midbrain is the limbic system where feelings register. The amygdala is seated here. The purpose of this organ is to divert biochemical energy to the brain stem when fear (flight) or anger (fight) are registered. The frontal lobes or neocortex are where we process our higher functions. Here we can understand cause and effect, see patterns and think in moral terms.
My brain downshifted a lot at school when I saw bullying. At home I downshifted when my kids & husband were having a relaxing, carefree weekend and I was working hard to clean the house and prepare meals and get groceries. After I learned about the 3 parts of my brain, I stopped guilt-tripping my family. I began to recognize my downshift and started thinking about ways in which I could get my needs met by discussing the issues with my family. We spoke about accountability and responsibilities each of us had as a family member. These discussions helped us learn how collaborate and be a happier family.
After teaching the 3 parts of the brain, ask the group to think of a time when they downshifted, were not happy and write down the situation as I have done above. Then get them to fill out a handout with the following questions, and then share with group:
- How did you feel? (Hurt, frustrated, angry, ...)
- Why did you want to do this, not do this? (Fun, wanted to be with friends, ...)
- What did you do to try to get what you wanted? (Screamed, cried, insulted...)
- Did what you did help or hurt your chances of getting what you wanted?