Brain State Information from Dr. Becky Bailey's website
The Executive State is found in the cortex or frontal lobes of the brain. This is where we can think, make rational decisions, problem solve, be organized, synthesize information, etc.. Very few animals have a cortex, and none have one as developed and complex as that of humans.
In the executive state, we feel safe emotionally and physically. We are ready to problem-solve, are ready to learn, can be organized, make decisions. We can remain calm and can access our self-regulatory skills. In the state, we are eager to learn, play, and be curious about the world. The brain seeks high challenge, low stress situations as well as patterns and routines.
Once we and our students are at this state, we can begin to problem solve. Do not attempt to solve problems or help children solve their problems until you and the child are at this state.
The Emotional State is housed in the limbic system, the middle section of the brain. This is where we question our connections and relationships and need to feel loved to function optimally. Some animals have access to a limbic system, with an emotional bonding area, like dogs and cats for example.
In this emotional state, it's as if a monkey is playing with our emotions. We don't know if we are loved, accepted, safe, fitting in, successful, etc.... This stage is like sitting on the emotional fence; with adequate self-regulatory skills, we can move ourselves back to the executive state. Without the necessary skills, we will fall to the Survival state. We need connections with our friends, family, teachers, students, colleagues, etc... to maintain in this state and move up to the higher centers. We MUST have connections, validation, reassurance, to move out of this stage into the executive state.
Self Talk is a great way to maintain in this state and reconnect to the Executive State.
"Keep breathing. I'm Safe. I'm calm. I can handle this.."
We are never ready to solve problems until we are out of this state and in the executive state.
The Survival State is found in the brain stem. All animals have a brain stem, and have basic survival instincts and the fight or flight mechanism.
In the survival state, the fight or flight response kicks in. We don't know if we are loved, cared for, safe, successful, etc... and we either fight or retreat. Both fight and flight are very common maladaptive coping mechanisms. We cannot learn, think rationally, be organized, problem solve, etc... in this state. We reach the survival state when our basic needs aren't met, such as lack of food or shelter, verbal or physical abuse, very stressful situations, etc... Basic needs in humans are physical (food, clothing, shelter, water, etc..) & emotional (feeling safe, loved, accepted, etc...) So, when kids come into your classroom without breakfast, parents fighting, unorganized, etc... they start their day in their brain stem, in this survival mode. Please understand they CANNOT be ready to learn until they feel safe and loved. This is why the brainsmart start (R), and predictable routines, and a sense of safety, love, and family in the classroom are so important! We MUST have emotional and physical safety to move out of this state.
"I'm safe. I'm calm. I can handle this." & Be a STAR
We are never ready to talk about it or solve the problem until we have moved through this state and the emotional state into the executive state..
Conscious Discipline Brain Facts:
"The best exercise for the brain is exercise."
"The brain is survival oriented and pattern seeking."
"The brain functions optimally when the child feels safe."
"Standing up makes 10%-15% more oxygen available to the brain."
"Connections on the outside of the body build neural connections on the inside."