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Flipping Your Lid

Flipping Your Lid also known as "getting triggered, experiencing a strong emotion, losing it, getting your buttons pushed" happens to every human for all sorts of reasons including lack of sleep, hard day at work, childhood trauma etc.

The key thing to remember is that when our lids are flipped, we are not able to think clearly. From Dan Siegel's "brain in palm" model, we know that when triggered, we are acting from our reptilian brain, the midbrain including your amygdala vs. our thinking brain, cerebral cortex including the pre-frontal cortex. We are no longer able to regulate our emotions, be appropriate in interpersonal relationships, be flexible and solution-focused. That's why it's so important to understand what happens in our brain when we flip our lids, common triggers that cause our our lids to flip as well what we can do to bring our thinking brain back on when it happens.

A couple things to remember:

  • Humans have mirror neurons. That means we are more likely to be influenced by the person near us. If your child flips their lid, you are more likely to flip yours and vice versa. That's why it is SO important to have your calm down strategies in place so you are able to keep your thinking brain on when things get challenging which will help your child self-regulate and calm down.

  • A person's pre-frontal cortex doesn't fully develop until their 25 so that means it's the adult's job to stay as calm as possible because the child doesn't have the full ability to self-regulate.

Next Steps for parents and children:

1. Identify Your Triggers - lack of sleep, not feeling heard, hunger, stress, large crowds etc.

2. Identify ways your body lets you know your lid is about to flip

  • Tightness in your chest

  • Hot face

  • Clenched fists

  • Yelling

3. Have a plan to use strategies to calm down when you feel like you're going to flip your lid

  • Make sure to practice strategies when calm

  • Remember that things don't need to be solved right away. It's more important for your thinking brain to be back on.

4. Teach your children how the brain works

Encourage your child to use the non-verbal signal of the lid being flipped (hand making a #4) to show that they feel like they're going to flip their lid.

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