Wizard/Lizard Brain: BrainWise Curriculum for Impulse Control in Anxious, Angry Kids

Wizard/Lizard Brain: BrainWise Curriculum for Impulse Control in Anxious, Angry Kids

Is your lizard brain taking over?

Everyone has a pre-frontal cortex and an amygdala. When we take in information to our brain, we either send it to our “lizard brain” or our “wizard brain.”

The BrainWise curriculum was designed to help kids build social and emotional control and self-regulation skills - perfect for anxious, angry kids and pre-teens. When I previously worked in the Saint Louis Counseling School Partnership Program, I received training in this program, and still use components of it in my practice today. To be clear, I’m not TECHNICALLY providing brainwise as I’m not maintaining really strict fidelity with the model. And honestly, I felt parts of the program were not so helpful - but the framework can be good to keep in mind for parents and teachers, as you work on helping your children and students take a step back and make better decisions.

Below you’ll find an brief summation of the different BrainWise modules.

If you’re interested in finding more about BrainWise, or you have questions about the model that you want answered by an expert, you can email info@brainwise-plc.org

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Panic Attack Management: 5 Simple Steps

Panic Attack Management: 5 Simple Steps

Don’t judge yourself!

Many people report experiencing panic attacks about panic attacks. Of course it makes sense to wish that you didn’t have to experience them. Or to wish that you were different. But when we judge ourselves, we can make this an unhealthy cycle - the panic, the guilt about the panic, the panic about the guilt about the panic… it’s a panic cycle! So break the cycle, and be kind to yourself. And practice your steps, even before you need them.

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Helping Kids Manage Their Unhelpful Thoughts

Helping Kids Manage Their Unhelpful Thoughts

What language do you use when talking to yourself?

When you make a mistake, do you tell yourself, "Well, I can try again next time. I can address X, Y, or Z and that may help"? Or do you say, "I'm an idiot. This is useless. There's no point in trying"?

Not so surprisingly, one of those thoughts is more helpful than the other. And it's not just adults who engage in these negative, unhelpful cognitions. Children are particularly prone to negative self-talk, especially if positive self-talk or thought flipping is not modeled for them. 

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Teens, School, and Stress Management

Teens, School, and Stress Management

One of the most important components of stress management and a busy schedule is prioritizing.

A lot of the anxious, perfectionist teens I work with feel overwhelmed by the amount of things to get done during the busy school year.

Rather than letting all of those tasks feel insurmountable, you can break down what needs to be done and when.

Step by step.

Figure out the steps needed to reach your goal, and keep those steps really specific and time-sensitive (such as, "I need to research 10 articles for this upcoming history paper by Tuesday," vs. just "I need to start work on my history paper.")

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October Scaries: Food Phobias (aka "You want me to eat WHAT?!")

October Scaries: Food Phobias (aka "You want me to eat WHAT?!")

“I’m not eating that! Gross!”

When you go to a restaurant, you bring an extra meal for your kid. You and your partner make dinner, and your little one has a whole separate menu for themselves. You'd rather have them eat something than nothing, but you're almost worried that if they eat another chicken nugget, they're going to turn into one. 

Why are kids such picky eaters?

There are a lot of different reasons that kids can be picky eaters - but part of the underlying issue can be anxiety - and not just fear of new foods. 

They'll only eat mayonnaise on white bread. Or they'll eat applesauce on Tuesdays and Tuesdays alone. That picky eating can be part of their exerting control on a little corner of their world. The feel overwhelmed and anxious about everything else, so at least they have a say on what they eat and when.

Anxious kids can also have sensory processing issues with food as well.

And in times like these, it may be helpful to have them meet with an occupational therapist who can help with their eating issues.

5 steps to help parents of picky eaters (read more…)

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