Affectionately known as ‘The Child Charmer’, Chrissie Davies is an educator, parent and founder of Chaos to Calm Consultancy with more than twenty years of experience achieving positive, game-changing results for countless families under her belt.
Offering a fresh approach to understanding and raising children in a modern world, Chrissie is particularly passionate about creating happier and safer home environments – so passionate, in fact, that she spent her weeks in lockdown writing her new book, ‘Love Your Brain’.
‘Love Your Brain’ was written specifically to be read and discussed with children, to help them understand the importance of learning about their brains. From there, Chrissie believes that we can help our children foster better connections with their emotion, and a better understanding of what it means to practice healthy brain care habits.
To find out what happened when haven spoke to Chrissie about her brand new book, read on.
What did you observe or experience throughout your career that led you to want to write ‘Love Your Brain’?
Sadly, throughout my time as an educator, I saw many special needs kids get bullied or excluded and become emotionally damaged by their experiences in mainstream education. By the time they got to me in Special Education, their self-esteem was in tatters and needed rebuilding over many years.
One of my hopes for ‘Love Your Brain’ is that educators will read the book with their students and encourage them to be more understanding, kind, and inclusive towards kids who are different from them. I also really hope that families will use the book as a tool to learn that children’s behaviours all come from their brains and emotions. What we see on the surface is a by-product of that, and therefore the core of understanding children’s behaviours starts with adults who understand child brain development.
By empowering parents, we give them the knowledge they can share with their children about understanding their emotions, thoughts, and feelings and ultimately link them to being responsible for their own behaviour choices.
What are the benefits of teaching our children about their mental health from a young age?
The sooner we get on with teaching children how to understand themselves and love themselves for who they are born to be, the better – I encourage parents to start talking to their kids about their brains today.
Anxiety and mental health issues for children are at an all-time high; with this in mind, I think it is never too late to start doing important internal work with kids. I am often reminding families to focus on the bigger picture for their children. While they are young and still growing their brains, the work we do with them is how we set them up for life.
Part of our responsibility as adults is to teach children how to cope without any support, to live independently, and make their way in the world without us. Their ability to live a successful life all starts with what we teach them about being resilient, having a strong sense of self, and navigating their emotions as adults as life becomes more stressful and complicated.
Does the way we talk to our children about their brains change depending on their age? If so, how?
Like all things to do with children, we must communicate with them in alignment with their development. Then we help them move towards a more in-depth understanding of concepts as their brains grow. The concepts shared in ‘Love Your Brain’ are aimed at primary school-aged children. Teaching children about their behaviour comes from empowering them to understand that certain ways they behave might be because their brains are not getting what they need to be happy and healthy. Starting with simple concepts around what brains need and then moving onto various functions and parts of the brain is recommended. I teach brain development in my workshops for families. Many people have never been taught this information before, so it’s fascinating to see how their perception of their child’s behaviour changes.
How can parents encourage brain care? Are there specific activities or exercises they can try with their children?
Children are like little sponges (as we know), so the more we can model healthy brain care habits, the more they will grow up with them being part of their everyday language and lifestyle. Encouraging healthy food choices, staying hydrated, and spending time in nature are all things I teach families to monitor regularly. Keeping a check on our personal use of screens and technology is also incredibly important. We have enjoyed yoga and relaxation sessions together as a family. We do lots of art and building activities and always have music playing as these have such positive impacts on a child’s brain. Indeed, on the entire family unit.
Which words or conversations should parents avoid when talking to their children about their brains?
The biggest understanding or realisation we must come to as parents is that our kids are biologically wired to be their unique selves. A big part of consciously raising thriving kids is accepting them for who they are, not what society’s outdated programming tells us they should be. By focusing on all the things that our kids are great at or still working hard to learn, we can continue to remind them they are great ‘just the way they are.’ Some of my favourite phrase for kids are:
- ‘We are all still learning.’
- ‘It is ok to make mistakes.’
- ‘Mistakes help us grow.’
- ‘You cannot do it – YET!’
- ‘Your brain is amazing and unique.’
What role do schools have to play in encouraging brain care? How can parents work collaboratively with their child’s teacher in this area?
Honestly? Schools have been onto this sort of stuff for years! They incorporate brain breaks, music arts, let kids drink and eat when their brains need it, and develop their curriculum around an enquiry model that allows kids to engage in their own ways. Do not get me wrong; I still believe that Australia’s current education system could improve in many ways, particularly concerning how they view challenging behaviours and how they support kids in mainstream settings. I also think that parents need to step up with helping their kids in the areas of their social and emotional development skills and not rely on our teachers to ‘grow up their child’s brain’ in so many areas. Somewhere over the years, the lines have blurred between the family’s responsibility and the educator’s role – but the truth is growing a human brain is an enormous job, so our children deserve as many adults invested them as possible, don’t you think?
Join Chrissie on her mission to hear the words ‘love your brain’ spoken in every family and classroom worldwide. Grab your copy of ‘Love Your Brain’ and start teaching your kids or students to become aspiring brain managers today, because ‘learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all!’.