Let's have a quick look at how our brains are wired and what this has to do with parenting:

Upstairs and downstairs brain

How can fight/flight/freeze/appease show up in parenting situations?


  • Thinking “I’m going to teach him a lesson he won't forget”

  • Thinking “She'd better do exactly what I asked, she'd better do it now”

  • Threatening with harsh consequences 


  • Thinking “It’s all too much, I’ll check my Facebook instead”

  • Leaving your partner to deal with the situation

  • Physically leaving the room


  • Going blank or numb, unable to think or listen

  • Staring into space, frozen and rigid

  • Not responding to your child


  • Pleading with your child

  • Offering something you normally wouldn’t

  • Moving a boundary without talking about it

If you recognise yourself in any of these descriptions, congratulations - you are a human being! We can all get triggered many times a day.

So what can be done about it? Overlooking it or wishing it wouldn't happen isn't going to be much help. Instead you can get to know your triggered states and learn to look after yourself when you are triggered. Imagine what parenting would feel like if you were able to notice more often or sooner that your downstairs brain had been activated and your upstairs brain had been flipped off. Imagine if you could pause to give your hard-working downstairs brain a break and some time to your upstairs brain to re-engage. Imagine what it would feel like to make your parenting decisions from a more connected place. 


General care of the brain is an important foundation because when the downstairs brain is overworked and stressed, it is more likely to get triggered and to flip the upstairs brain off. When the downstairs brain gets triggered it can happen so quickly that we often don't realise until well after the event. Let's have a think about some simple changes that can help to de-stress the downstairs brain, reduce the frequency of it getting triggered and the intensity when it does. 

Enough sleep, wholesome nutrition and physical activity are vital for the well-being of your brain. I invite you to ponder over the following questions:

  • Am I getting enough sleep?

  • How could my diet be better?

  • Am I as active physically as I would like to be?​

You might know straight away what you would like to change to help you feel better or you might need a few days to mull things over. The effect of your self-care will build up over time so choose something you would like to keep up until at least the end of this group - hopefully by then it will become your new normal.  

Invitation for this week

Complete the following sentences to create a plan for the coming week:

  • I am going to look after my brain by...

  • To make this happen I need...

  • It is possible that ... can get in the way.

  • I am going to prevent this by... 

  • I am going to make this more enjoyable by...

Share how are you going to look after your brain in the group. 

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Forest Row, East Sussex

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