Me and my kiddo

Me and my kiddo

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Terminology: The Thinking Brain

I think my husband first came up with the terms "thinking brain" and "feeling brain" about two months ago.  My immediate response was unease as this seemed to establish the idea of a mind-body dichotomy (  Cameron has absolutely latched on to the terms and really likes talking about his thinking brain and sighting examples of when he's used it well.  For example, he recently got sealants on his teeth and was absolutely crowing about how strong his thinking brain had been because he knew it hurt a bit but was better for him in the long run.  I love seeing that pride in his accomplishments.  He also seems to love the idea of exercising his thinking brain, making it stronger, helping him become an airplane engineer (latest passion, he's moved on from wanting to be a circus acrobat)!

So, we've done lots of talking about how both "brains" are important and all the wonderful things that feelings offer.  He is so intensely joyful and has no difficulty grasping that feelings are good too.  He also understands, at some level, that feelings are not thinking i.e. they just happen and need to be evaluated before action.  While we're working with these terms, I'm curious what language other Objectivist parents have used.  If exercising their brain, making thinking stronger, or somehow pinpointing the cognitive issue has come up for other parents, I'd love to hear how you've handled the issue in the comments.


  1. This is not a direct response, but it might be related:

    In an earlier post you mentioned Cameron saying that he would be bored on a space flight to the Sun. Boredom is a concept of introspection. Normally introspection is a skill acquired in the teen years (if ever). Yet, even very small children quickly learn the meaning of the word/concept "boredom" -- probably because it is (1) important to them (to be interested, not bored), and (2) it is directly "perceivable" (through looking inside).

    My point -- really only a suggestion -- is that whenever there is a requirement that a child introspect (and act accordingly afterwards), the requirement must be based on both a readily introspectible fact and a value important to him. That integration of fact and value is powerful for making changes in one's life, either psychologically or existentially.

    P. S. -- By "readily introspectible" I mean a first order concept like fear or boredom or excitement.

  2. I was chatting with my husband about your comment last night and reaffirming how important it is to tie our teaching to the child's perceptions. Thank you for the reminder that introspection is perceivable for a child by "looking inside". I think focusing on the skill of introspection is the pre-requisite for a child to eventually, independently address their own thoughts and feelings. The "How to talk..." book identifies one way to help children identify and thus begin to introspect about their own emotions. By labeling the emotion a parent is observing the first building blocks are laid i.e. "I hear you yelling. It sounds like you're angry about that.".