What it is: According to the Conscious Discipline website, “The Conscious Discipline Brain State Model becomes a framework for us to understand the internal brain-body states that are most likely to produce certain behaviors in children and in ourselves.” The goal of the brain state model is to provide a simple map to navigate us to the executive state. There are three states in this model: Survival, Emotional, and Executive.

 Survival (brain stem): Asks “Am I Safe?” This is where we feel triggered by a threat. The only way to help a child in a Survival State is to give them safety. While in this state, a child will be in their flight-fight-or-flee stage. While in this state, you may see your child become physically aggressive.

 Emotional (limbic system): Asks “Am I loved?” This is a child’s response to being upset. This stage is where you will see your child become verbally aggressive or throwing temper tantrums.

 Executive (prefrontal lobes): Asks “What can I learn from this?” This is the state of problem-solving and learning. This stage allows us to teach practical skills needed to manage thoughts, feelings, and actions.

 The biggest threat to a child’s sense of safety is an out of control adult. This is why it is important that the adult first calm themselves and reach their executive state before comforting the child. When a child is in the Survival State, they cannot immediately jump to the Executive State. Once the adult is in the Executive State, we can then help the child navigate through the stages and return them to their Executive State.

brain states cd