There are four brains: red, green, blue, and yellow. This is the metaphor used by Rafa Guerrero, child psychologist and doctor of Education, in his book The child and adolescent brain, keys and secrets of neuroeducation which aims to explain to adults and children the brain functions of these four areas in a pedagogical, useful and simple way: “The brain works as a whole, it is interconnected, and the objective that we as parents, teachers and therapists have is to paste, join, these four areas. To make it very simple, I decided to differentiate them by color ”, Guerrero emphasizes. “First I speak of the color red, which would represent the most primitive, intuitive and survival-oriented part; this brain does not feel emotions, it does not think, it does not coordinate, it does not execute, it is only interested in being well fed, rested, it is very basic and is shared by all animals ”, continues the expert. Then things get complicated. “Then there would be the green brain. It is an emotional brain, and it is where bonds, sociability, kindness, attachment and very basic concepts such as memory or learning are encoded, ”explains Guerrero. In short, green is the box of emotions. These two brains form the subcortex, anatomically speaking, they are automatic brains and geared towards survival.
The importance of blue and yellow brains
The blue and yellow brains are located in the neocortex, which is the outermost part of the brain. The next two thirds would be blue, “and there we store information, our long-term memory, all our memories, our knowledge, language, everything we have been learning, the values that our parents have given us, all the knowledge. that we have acquired in school… it could be called our very great library ”, Guerrero says.
“The remaining third would be yellow, and it is the most important, because it is the one in charge of directing the orchestra, coordinating all the other brains. For example, surviving when a car is going to hit you is as important as being able to express an emotion when I’m angry because I don’t like something; how to be able to think and access information when I am taking an exam; how to coordinate all that. He is the CEO of the company, he is there, in the frontal cortex, and he is yellow, he is the executive ”, says the expert. “And it is also the brain most influenced by good and bad, the most influenced by the media; for parents, and for friends ”, he adds. “For example, my father, no matter how good the intention is, even if he wants to mobilize the red brain, he will only achieve it if he puts it at risk, it is the case of abusers or abusers, but remember that it is not a brain to be trained, it is innate ”, emphasizes the psychologist. “Yellow is the most malleable, most influential brain.”
According to the specialist, you have to give yellow a lot of love, a lot of patience, you have to take care of yourself, you have to have a healthy yellow brain, “an unhealthy brain cannot raise an immature brain, it is impossible.” We must take care of him with great affection, he reiterates, with a lot of unconditional gaze, we must be very present, connecting with our children: “All brains are interconnected, but in the end the one that structures, and the one that is aware that we are doing it very bad or very good, it is yellow. He is the one that brings awareness to the action, the one that concentrates, the one that regulates emotional intelligence, for example, is in this part ”.
The child’s brain is malleable and influenceable
The good and the bad thing about the brain of our children is that it is very malleable and influential: “Good parenting is getting our child to have a good relationship, to have empathy, to have critical thinking, to have the capacity for autonomy, to be capable of protecting his own and a long etcetera ”. What would a healthy mother or father be then? As specified by the expert, the healthy father must have “physical presence, the ability to connect with their children and be empathetic, know what they need and, lastly, be responsive,” explains Guerrero. Summing up: “It is a very simple way of explaining it, but I think it will be understood that way. If I am always present, we start well. If in the second place I connect with you and I am able to get into your head, get into your heart and I am able to synchronize with you, I am in a position to move to the third phase, which is the responsive one ”, he adds. “This way, if your knee hurts, I take care of your knee. If you are hungry, I attend to your hunger… ”.
The example of this process is the management of frustration: “The first thing that as a father or mother you should know is what happens in a brain when it gets frustrated, be it your child’s or yours or your partner’s.” “I would do two things, to do it graphically,” he continues, “the first thing I connect with you, that is, I understand that you are angry, then I legitimize your emotions. The next phase would be to redirect… For example, my son is having fun in a park, but we have to go home. I understand that he is angry, but I explain to him that tomorrow there is school, that he has to bathe and have dinner, and after reasoning about it, we end up going up, is what to do, but this does not imply that your son is not angry. Obviously, he’s not going to get out of it: “Yes, Dad, I think you have to go upstairs because you have to have dinner and sleep. But I have listened to him, I have understood his feelings and I have explained it to him ”.
Peculiarities of the adolescent brain
“I like to use a metaphor that helps to understand what the adolescent brain is like,” continues the expert. “Your brain”, he continues, “is like a mobile that has received a notification for which it must be updated. The moment you click OK, the phone stops working. The good news is that when you get your mobile back, it will be much better and more operational, it will be much more adapted, you will find functions that you did not have before, but that you will finally have ”. According to him, this is what happens to the adolescent, who is not a child, but neither is he an adult, he is in impasse: “The emotional sunami of adolescence is very complex. Normally parents have a hard time, because the structure of the brain that is most updated is the superior one, it is the cortex, that is, the blue brain and the yellow brain, the human. What causes only the red and green parts of the brain to work: instinct and emotions ”.
Can we parents do something in childhood, so as not to get surprises at this stage? “The good thing about the brain is that it is cumulative, all the investment we make at all levels [social, operativo, ejecutivo], then they will be protective factors and everything that we do not do in the first years of life will be risk factors ”, concludes Guerrero.
Why is it essential for parents to know the development and parts of the brain? According to Guerrero, everyone should have some basic notions of how the brain works: “And, be careful, this does not imply that you have to enroll in medicine. I think that with dedicating two hours of our life to having some basic notions, and being able to apply them on a day-to-day basis, is enough ”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.