This was in a recent newsletter from Right Brain Kids that I thought was worth sharing…
Why is it important to have a Happy Mind?
The right brain is an emotional brain. When a child experiences trauma, the right brain shuts off. This has a negative impact on a child’s learning capability. In order to re-open the right brain, our children need to feel secure and loved.
How do we Help Children Heal the Right Brain?
A recent newsletter from Right Brain Kids shares four simple techniques:
Technique 1: Happy Endings
The right brain loves storytelling. A memory is a story. And every story can be rewritten. The right brain can easily change it – into something bigger (which often happens through fear), or into something smaller – through a creative, healing retelling of the story.
Here’s how to do it.
1. Begin with the first story — the original. Patiently give your child time to share and download what has happened. The more he/she talks about it, the better. Sharing is important. You can say, “Tell me the story about today.”
2. The original story can be shared by:
Drawing a picture
Acting it out (puppets and toys help!)
Recreating the scene with clay or play-dough
Talking it through
3. Be a good listener. When hearing your child’s story, it is important not to judge or make critical comments. This is a time for you to listen and share.
4. When you feel that the story has been fully expressed, ask your child, “What would you have liked to happen INSTEAD?” Listen. Give suggestions if he/she is unable to think of a happy ending.
5. Tell a new story. When you have brainstormed and found a satisfying ending, then take him on your lap and tell him/her the new story. By telling a new story, you have changed the neurological connections in your child’s brain. It is quite powerful. This technique is used in child abuse healing circles and domestic trauma centers. Of course, it is important not to gloss-over life; each experience has something to learn from. But when children are met with senseless violence or unkindness, it is better that they forgive the past and move forward to a healthy future as quickly as possible. A new story creates a new future.
Technique 2: The Healing Box
This is usually done in a group, e.g. a class…
1. Ask the children to share their hurts or concerns.
2. As they speak, draw pictures so that they can see the story and the others can feel compassion.
3. Once everyone has shared their feelings, fold the pieces of paper. Then put them into the Healing Box.
The idea is that they can put their concerns in that box and know that those memories will be healed and all is well now.
“Our very beginnings on this planet give evidence to the importance of hugging. As tiny infants, we quickly learn to extend our arms to be picked up and to be loved. Touching gives us more insight into our exciting new world than our visual contact. Our mother’s touch calms and comforts us. We feel safe and protected in her arms. And we connect with the love emanating from her heart.” – Patricia Dejoseph
“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” – Virginia Satir
When to Hug and How to Hug:
When your child is hurting and it’s too soon to use words, then it’s time for a hug.
1. Open your arms.
2. If your child comes to you, then hug for not one second, not two seconds… but for five whole seconds.
3. End with caring eye contact and a smile.
Technique 4: Emotional Freedom Technique
One very effective way to treat the little hurts that come our way is through talking each day. But another way is to release negative memories through a form of acupressure called EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique. It is quick, easy to learn and easy to use in any situation, large or small.
As EFT founder, Gary Craig, shared in a recent article:
“The basic idea is simple. Every night, while children are being tucked into bed, parents should ask…
“Can you tell me about your good and bad thoughts as well as the good and bad things that happened to you today?”
Then as the events are being told (both good and bad), the parents should lightly and lovingly either tap or gently rub the EFT points.
There are nine points. You can use all nine with children, or you can simplify the process to just one: the “karate chop” point. It is located on the side of the palm.
I recently picked up the book “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Norman Doidge on the recommendation of CoachMi. Considering that I have a growing pile of unfinished reading to do, I probably could do without the extra book, but this one is really worth it. If there is a book you should read this year, this would be it.
As a professional Mom, my life revolves around how I can help my children reach their potentials. To do that, I believe it is important to learn as much as possible about the amazing potential of the brain. As we move further into the 21st century, we are redefining what we know about the human brain and the discoveries are nothing less than spectacular. Given the knowledge we now possess, it would be criminal not to harness it through deliberate constructive development of our children.
After learning about right brain education and how helping our children to develop their right brains can unlock amazing abilities that are inherent in every individual, it really comes as no surprise to read even more amazing findings about the human brain.
Some time back, I watched a movie called “Limitless“. In a nutshell, it is about a failing writer who starts taking a miracle drug that gives him access to everything his mind has ever seen. Here’s the preview:
Okay, there are spoilers ahead so if you really want to watch the movie, I would stop reading here…
Although the movie is fictional, the concept is not quite as impossible as it may once have seemed. Following right brain philosophy, the right brain records everything we see like a camera where it remains in our subconscious. The only reason we cannot recall everything with perfect accuracy is because those memories are clouded by our consciousness that influences how we remember things. The purpose of helping our children develop their right brain is so that they can access those right brain memories with greater clarity.
At the end of the movie, the main character gets off the drug, but he is still able to function as if he is still on the drug. This correlates with the brain’s amazing ability to reshape itself. In the first chapter of “The Brain that Changes Itself”, Doidge writes about an individual who has lost her sense of balance – the organ that gives her her sense of balance has been damaged. She cannot stand up without falling over. Her condition is debilitating and her quality of life is next to zero. Based on most medical prognoses, there is nothing that can be done for her.
Enter Bach-y-Rita, a scientist who has developed a device that will help to give her an artificial sense of balance. When the woman wears the device, her sense of balance is restored. Now the amazing thing is that after removing the device, there is a residual effect and she is able to keep her sense of balance without the device for a fixed period of time before she totally loses her balance again. The more she wears the device, the longer the residual effect becomes. Eventually, her brain retrains itself completely and is able to fully compensate for the loss of the sense of balance without the use of the device. This woman is able to find her balance without the organ that ordinary individuals require to maintain their sense of balance.
So what is the significance of this story?
We used to talk about right brain development being something more for the children. If you missed the window of opportunity, it is gone forever. But it isn’t. Neuroplasticity is the new name for the brain’s amazing ability to organise itself. Neuroplasticity can occur at any age. The key is to find out how to do it and then to train the brain to change itself.
So whether your child is newborn, 3 years old, 6 years old, or a teenager, it is never too late. In fact, it is not too late for us either.
In Right Brain Education, there are several activities that help develop the photographic memory function. Mandala is one of those activities. Another activity is space memory.
Space Memory can be done using images in a Memory Grid or random images without a grid. Similar to the Mandala activity, your child is shown a picture briefly after which your child is required to recreate the picture by placing the image cards in their correct locations.
For more Space Memory exercises that you can practice with on the go, try these apps:
The Mandala activity helps to train observation skills and to develop the right brain‘s photographic memory.
You can create your own Mandalas. Start with simple patterns using only two or three colours and gradually increase the number of colours and difficulty. Give your child a set of colour pencils and a black and white outline of the Mandala:
Show your child the coloured Mandala pattern for about 10 seconds, then cover it.
Ask your child to mark in the colours – just a line showing where each colour should be will suffice. Your child can colour in the Mandala later as a colouring activity. Check the colours off against the original Mandala to see if they are marked correctly.
The second part to this exercise is intended for older children. Give your child a blank sheet of paper and the colour pencils again. Flash the Mandala pattern three times for 10 seconds each time, then cover it. Ask your child to draw out the pattern and add the colours. Reveal the original Mandala pattern and see if the Mandala your child has drawn is the same.
The Mandala activity also trains the imaging ability of the right brain because the idea is to take a snapshot of the pattern and draw it out again based on the “photo” of the image you have in your head. In Heguru, the parents usually draw the outline and the children add in the colour.
What you want your child to do is to take a mental photograph of the Mandala so that all he has to do is copy the picture he has in his mind.
Clocking the 10,000 hours is not as important as what you do with those hours. It’s not enough to just go through the motions of practicing. It must be deliberate, dedicated practice that is focussed on improvement.
10,000 hours is simply a ball park figure. Don’t use it as a measure. The essential take-home message is that lots and lots of practice is required.
The Value of Interleaving
Firstly, what the heck is interleaving? It is essentially a method of practice that involves mixing things up. For instance, in baseball batting practice, instead of hitting 15 fastballs, then 15 curveballs, then 15 change-ups, practice hitting random pitches.
It was theorised that if teachers taught subjects in smaller, randomised chunks, students might gain a deeper understanding of the material. This seems to agree with an article I recall reading on study practices some time back where they recommended changing subjects during a study period rather than slogging through one subject at a time because your recall and learning potential is greater when you chop and change rather than focus only on one subject at a time.
Interleaving gives the brain a better workout because mixing tasks provides just enough stress to trigger the release of a hormone called corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) in the hippocampus, the brain area central to memory and learning. CRF strengthens synapses. During blocked practice, by contrast, you’re not reloading your circuitry by trying different tasks, you’re under less stress, and your brain is bored and less engaged.”
So if you want to help your child learn faster and better, perhaps you should start incorporating the interleaving technique into his practice…
If this article has caught your attention, take a look at the following articles and studies on interleaving: