In the next video, we’ll work with the practical Regathering and Reconnection tools of positive emotional expression. Let’s talk about the brain science that explains the importance of adult modeling of healthy emotional expression.
In your Happy Home, we honor that most of us have an arrested development around our emotions and have inherited a negative emotional blueprint from our own parents. The brain science proves that you can always transform negative emotional patterns you may have inherited from our own parents. The ability to positively change our brains is called neural plasticity and is defined as “the ability of the brain to change and grow throughout the life span from positive relationship.” Your brain, the very essence of who you are, can change throughout your entire life. NO negative patterns – or the Shark Music you may have inherited – are set in stone. Wonderful news!
And the #1 ingredient to your transformation? Positive relationship experience with yourself and others is what heals our brains! Learning how to positively, emotionally regulate our brains through “Being With” is part of the positive change, and maximizing the positive potential of all your relationships and the social brain is a key ingredient to positive brain change.
As you are changing your emotional blueprint and modeling positive emotional expressing, you may automatically find that your children’s negative emotional expression begins to decrease almost magically. Why and how this? It’s due to the brain science of mirror neurons and the sponge brain.
Let’s dive into the brain science of mirror neurons first. Mirror neurons are defined as “a brain cell that reacts both when a particular action is performed and when it is observed.” With mirror neurons, our brains literally can read what we experience ourselves as THE SAME as what we watch other people experience. Kind of eeiry, huh? One some level, t’s actually possible to read other people’s emotions and actions, on a felt- level, like they are our own.  Now, there is a particularly unique and direct interconnection between mirror neurons in parents and children.
The interconnection between parents and children has to do with a concept called sponge brains. Dr. Dan Siegel mentions that “children’s brains are really like sponges.” The way I explain this is, if we go back to a model of Brain in the Palm of Your Hand and you make a fist with your right hand, this represents your adult brain which can always change, but is fully formed at age 25. Now keeping your right hand in a fist, put your left hand on top of and over the fist of your right hand. This second hand represents the child’s brain that is growing up to 90% of its adults size in the first 3 years of life. How is the child is growing their brain? They are literally sponging and developing their immature brain off the parents’ fully developed brain.  This “sponge brain” is the power, and also the responsibility and sometimes the stress, of parenting.
Let’s connect the concepts of sponge brain and mirror neurons to flipped lid of Brain in the Palm of your Hand. When a parent flips their lid, due to direct connection of the sponge brain and mirror neurons, a child is wired to flip their lid. And vice versus, when a child flips their lid – especially if the parent is stressed – the parent is likely to flip their lid too.
Again, the challenge parents face today – is even though we’re adults – most of us did not have healthy emotional expression modeled for us by our parents, so we never learned the skills of healthy emotional development as kids.  So, we have to unlearn what we were taught by our own parents about emotions AND teach ourselves positive emotional skills as we’re teaching our children healthy emotional development. It’s very far from ideal, and can be very challenging and stressful – but it’s so rewarding, healing and empowering when you have access to the proper tools and support that Happy Home provides.
As you begin to develop your Regathering and Reconnection plan, keep in mind the power of neural plasticity, mirror neurons and the sponge brain and your adult modeling of healthy emotional expression.
While children are wired to flip their lid if we do, fortunately, the good news is, the flip side is true as well. Our modeling of self-regulation automatically develops self-regulation in our children. And due to children’s developing brains that are learning and growing so rapidly, children are able to learn and embody healthy emotional development much faster than we do!

Parenting Reflections:
  • If it’s helpful, remind yourself that it’s never too late to change negative patterns.
  • How do you see the brain science of mirror neurons and sponge brains operating as a negative and as a positive in your family?
  • As you work with Shark Music and Regathering and Reconnection plans, remember the power of supporting and Being With Yourself to work towards modeling healthy emotional expression and integration for your children.