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Brain-Based Approach to Behavior
April 27, 2022
Conflict cannot survive without your participation.
-Wayne Dyer (1940 – 2015), American author

"How many of us feel open and receptive to new ways of thinking or doing when backed into a corner?" asks Kirsten Haugen in the newest Out of the Box Training, "Brain-Based Approach to Behavior." She describes how our brains react when in a conflict with someone, or someone refuses to cooperate with us. "These perceived threats," she explains, "are processed in the same way as physical threats, and the amygdala responds in the same way to focus our minds and bodies to react rather than to reflect."

Haugen describes how this response can make it nearly impossible for children to regulate their behavior when their brains are engaged in this way. Knowing how to recognize what Haugen calls these "unteachable moments," can be essential to de-escalating tense situations. "Learning will not occur while the brain is flooded with cortisol. Accept this and move on to some very helpful things you can do during an unteachable moment."

Haugen provides much food-for-thought about what to do when a child’s brain is flooded with cortisol. Here are a just few examples:

  • "Keep your focus on calming things down, starting with yourself.
  • Avoid trying to teach a lesson or make a point. It won’t be heard and it will likely prolong the conflict by keeping the child in a neurochemically-charged state.
  • Recognize that the best time to confront the issue is later on, when all brains involved have returned to a receptive, reflective state."

NEW! Out of the Box Training Kit

Playfulness at Work

This Out of the Box Training draws on research-based theories on adult learning. The activities blend neurological, conceptual, experiential, transformative and reflective approaches to help you engage and support participants.


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