Conversations with your toddler brain

Feb 15, 2021

Do you remember this article about not parenting in the fire? 


The fire is the red zone, aka our emotional brain. I lovingly refer to it as our “toddler brain”. 


As a parent, you most likely know this brain very well.  You’ve probably spent a lot of your days helping such brains. It might look like your toddler insisting on a certain colour bowl, losing their minds when they don’t get it and then smacking their sibling that did, knocking over the cereal, crying harder, until they accidentally splash their hand in it, which starts a new game and manic giggles (and more mess) and you watch it all thinking “what is happening?” And make a mental note, that perhaps the irrational toddler could use an early nap. 


To summarize, “toddler brains” are highly emotional, constantly struggling to regulate, very illogical, and act on impulse.


When our toddler brain is high, our logical brain is low. It’s like a teeter-totter. When we are high on emotions, we’re low on logic. We don’t think clearly, we react impulsively, and don’t make the best decisions for ourselves or others. 


 We already dug into the problems with parenting from this space – “in the fire”,  when our toddler brain is in a full tantrum, and I gave you the first mind-hack that I share with my clients.


But here’s another. And it’s a good one. 


I call it: “Conversation with our toddler brain.”


You see,  along with our “toddler brain”  we also have a “parent brain”. Our parent brain is the logical one. It can make decisions, think about things clearly, and respond in helpful ways. So all we need to do is get that “parent brain” interacting with our “toddler brain”. 


First: Get out some paper. 

Let your toddler brain go wild! “I can’t do this!”, “I’m failing at this motherhood gig”, “It’ll never get better!”, “I’m not enough”, “If only my kids were easier”.  Let it ALL out. Don’t hold back or judge your thinking. 


Once you’ve done this for 2-5 minutes, bring out the parent brain. 


Parent brain to me feels calm, confident, and compassionate. I have a friend whose parent brain feels free, creative, and trusting of her intuition. Perhaps yours is very empathetic or feels like a safe place for others.  Everyone’s parent brain is different. Tap into a time parenting when you thought “I handled that well” to discover yours. From that place, begin to have a conversation with your inner toddler. 

Look over your toddler thoughts- what if it was your best friend saying those things, or your own child? If someone you deeply love and care about shared all of those troubled thoughts with you, how would you respond? THAT is the parent brain. 


Go back through each of your negative thoughts and respond to them from your parent brain space, one by one. 


This could look like: “You’re doing your best”, “We’re all humans and humans make mistakes”, “I know this is hard, I feel you”, “It’s okay for it to be hard, we’ll make it through”


Notice how you feel. 


Perhaps it reminds you of how comforting it is to be encouraged by a friend.


Or maybe you imagine your child snuggled up to you after seeming big emotions- breathing steadily again, feeling heard, feeling safe, feeling loved, feeling like it’s all going to be okay- my mom is here, she loves me, she’s got my back, she will be there to help me calm down and keep trying. 


How powerful would it be if you could be that space of safety, love, and support for yourself?

I’ll tell you— its’ amazing.


To know you have access to this process right within yourself, can be hugely empowering.


Try it out. 


Let me know how the conversation goes. 


As always, as we work on us, our relationship with our children will transform.


Crystal <3 


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