The Brain Fist Model For Teaching Social/Emotional Skills

What is the Brain Fist Model? 

The Brain Fist Model is a way to teach children about their brain, specifically the emotions and thinking parts of their brain work. It's more simple than you would think. 
You make a fist with your hand, putting your thumb in the middle. Your thumb represents the amygdala (the "emotions" part of your brain). Your fingers represent the cerebral cortex (the "thinking" part of your brain).
When your "lid" is closed (aka the cerebral cortex) your brain is working great, you're able to think and rationalize. This is called "Wizard Brain." We call it wizard brain because you are thinking and using all of your brain. 
However, when you feel a strong emotion (such as anger, fear, jealousy, embarassment, etc.), your amygdala will take over and make you "flip your lid." Once your lid is flipped, your brain is working together anymore. You're only using the emotions part of your brain. This is called "Lizard Brain." We call it lizard brain because you are only using the part of your brain that animals have (aka the emotions/fight and flight) part. 


How to Teach Kid's About it: 

There are a million ways to implement this and teach it. Begin by explaining the model. Teach children how their fist can make a model of their brain. Use all of the proper terms, children can learn it!!
 Use this in daily life. Bring it up when you are personally feeling strong emotions. Talk about it when you are watching movies and shows and the characters begin to act on emotions (i.e. when Riley runs away from home in Inside Out, that is a direct example of someone flipping their lid and acting only on emotions). 

Why It's Great: 

I call this social/emotional skills G O L D because it's not some trendy/cute strategy that will be outdated in a year. It is literally teaching children how their brain works. This skill is CONCRETE and it will apply to them for the rest of their life.
The more we can teach children about their brain and how it works, the more likely they will grow up learning that they can understand/control their brains a little better. 
And, once they get older, its crucial for everyone to learn how the effects of stress hormones can effect their brains and cause impaired development.
Helping individuals understand their brain and how it works is arguably one of the best tools we can give them so they can take the steps to properly care for their mental health. 

Additional Resources: 

If you are interested in learning more, check out the following resources: 
Hope this information is helpful! 
- Adeline  

1 comment

  • Joel S.

    I love this and will use it to support my students. I think I found a typo and wanted to let you know. Under the “What is the Brain Fist Model?” the second sentence; “Once your lid is flipped, your brain is working together anymore.”

    I think it should say “your brain IS NOT working together anymore.”

    Thanks so much for this!

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