In their book, Parenting From the Inside Out (Tarcher/Penguin, 2004) Daniel Siegel and Mary Hartzell present an elegant and refreshingly (to us non-brain-scientists) understandable explanation of brain processes. In our Positive Discipline classes with both parents and teachers of children, this model remains one of the most useful and remembered tools. It’s called “Brain in the Palm of Your Hand.” What follows is a demonstration of Siegel’s model.
With two flipped lids face to face (yours and the child's), how much helpful problem solving do you think is happening? Who is listening? When you and the child are in a “flipped lid” state, is this the time to teach or try to solve the conflict?
Many parents and teachers try to deal with a behavior problem with a child when they are in the “flipped lid” state of brain functioning. When you understand the brain you realize that this is useless. Children cannot learn anything positive when they feel threatened. They are capable only of fight or flight—even though their fight or flight may be emotional withdrawal or thoughts of avoiding rebellion. Lectures are useless at best and damaging at worst because children in a flipped lid state tune out lectures or take them into their decision making process through the amygdala where they may be deciding to get even, to avoid getting caught in the future, or deciding, “I am a bad person.”