Trying to understand the male brain

Another tool for the kit - Brain Profiling!

The way our minds work has always been an area of fascination for me. In my corporate life I’ve worked in recruitment and development for many years, and have been trained in many leading psychometric profiling tools. Interpreting and providing feedback on the profiles is something I’ve really enjoyed – particularly when used for development purposes. In my experience of doing the profiling myself, and also from going through feedback sessions, the tools are incredibly accurate.

My eldest son started school in January this year, and unfortunately for him he hasn’t been enjoying it so far, and we’re now in the third term. I’ve spoken to his teacher about it, who by all accounts feels that he is fine when at school, and let her know that he tells me he is very unhappy. Transitioning from kindy where the philosophy is learning through play, to going into a school classroom environment is a large task. Especially for active boys!

 School has changed a lot since I was a kid, it seems a lot more interactive, and there are definitely a lot of positives to this. Gone are the days of having one teacher for the whole year in a small-ish group like I had when I was a kid (granted – this was in a small rural community, not a large city). He’s in a classroom that is the size of 3 or 4 classrooms physically, but is open plan. He has a ‘Guardian group’ teacher, and who looks after around 20 pupils. In the open plan space there are now 4 guardian groups which means 60-80 children in the one building.


There’s no doubt that this sort of environment benefits lots of kids, but with more and more children in our country being diagnosed with anxiety at a young age, I can’t help but wonder if this sort of set up actually causes a lot of stress for children. I can’t imagine how it must feel for a shy child in this sort of environment, being in different groups for different tasks and having to try and navigate their way through so many kids in their class. I know from friends who have older kids in similarly set up schools that this is something they are currently struggling with. However - the up side of this is that there are various workstations in the classroom where the children do different tasks – there are no set desks as such, and the kids can move groups for reading, writing etc when they’re ready. One big thing I like is that the kids do have a few teachers, which means that if they don’t gel with one – and let’s face it we’ve all had at least one teacher we didn’t like, who may have made school a little miserable – then they have others that they are likely to get on with.

One thing I’m really conscious about is the fact that my husband is dyslexic, so I find it prudent to keep across Leo’s learning at school, to make sure we can give him extra support if need be. Our teacher doesn’t think there are any issues and is pleased with his progress, but I have been wondering whether this is a factor in him not enjoying school.

Anyway, I had always wondered if there were some tools available to be able to help understand how childrens brains worked, it’s difficult being a parent (hardest job ever) and you want to try and understand your child as much as possible to be able to help them thrive. One day as I was picking up my youngest son from daycare I saw a sign, literally a physical sign (not a wafty “I had a sign” sign) about brain profiling and it had a website www.brainfocus.co.nz so I went home and read it, called Noeline to ask a few more questions, and subsequently booked in a time to take my son in for the test.

What Noeline does is something called Genetic Stress Profiling, which understands the genetic blueprint of how the brain processes information. When we’re young, we have different dominances, as we get older our brain hemispheres integrate, but as we become stressed, our non dominant side of the brain switches off, and as a result we lose different inputs (think of things like visual, hearing, verbal etc).  As adults, when we are under stress, we revert back to this initial blue print. Really fascinating stuff! And it totally made sense to me.

For example, when my son is stressed, most of his inputs stop working and the only thing that keeps functioning is his verbal ability. Which as a parent of a rambunctious five year old translates into – when he is being told off he doesn’t listen to anything and does a lot of talking back.

He is left brain dominant, which indicates that he is a perfectionist, he wants to get things done well and gets frustrated in himself if he can’t get it right. He has a strong sense of right and wrong and there’s a lot of ‘it isn’t fair’ type conversations.

I won’t bore/regale you with all of the feedback, I wrote 10 pages worth of info...but I wanted to share about the profiling because I found it incredibly accurate, very insightful, and I’ve come away with some great tools for understanding him a bit better. I’ve quickly outlined the key take outs for me below.

He’s a very active kid, and his brain is triggered by movement – even seeing it, so he can come across as easily distracted, or can’t stay focussed type child but in fact he can’t actually help this. This no doubt adds to the stress of not enjoying school – as there is not as much outdoor play like at kindy, and in a classroom with so many children I’d imagine he’s distracted quite a lot!

Distracted, off task, can’t focus...sound familiar? And how many kids have been prescribed medication for ADHD because they can’t concentrate? Perhaps there’s something deeper to it.

This is not uncommon particularly in boys. There’s a fantastic book called the Male Brain by Dr Louann Brizendine which talks about the male brains constant need for movement, and how their brain is wired – if you’re a mother of a boy I would strongly recommend reading this!

Perfect example that I’ve seen so many times – Mum’s taking a boy and a girl to a cafe. The girl is quite content to sit nicely and quietly and colour in, while a boy will look ‘naughty’ because he can’t sit still and just wants to run around. It’s just how their brains are wired. My boys as babies would like in their cot watching their mobile just mesmerised, the constant movement was appealing to them.

Anyway – the book. My sister told me about it a few years back – I really felt like I needed to understand boys a little better (coming from a family of all girls). It talks about the male brain through the different stages of life – for anyone with boys it’s a must read! I’m nervous about the teenage years...

Anyway back to Leo. He’s very strong willed and a creative problem solver. If we want him to do things our way he needs to have a compelling reason, otherwise forget it, he won’t listen/or he’ll argue his point until he’s blue in the face (not literally blue, but he aint a quitter).

He is very future oriented, and can be quite anxious – something we had no idea about. He will ask a lot of questions but often these can be seen as him procrastinating. For example when it’s bedtime he might start asking questions like what’s for breakfast tomorrow, what’s the plan in the morning, and what will you be doing when I’m at school – all of which I would just think was just a way to avoid going to sleep but in actual fact is just how his brain works, he needs to prepare himself for things. We already knew he has an impressive way of filing information in his brain, his memory is exceptional, he’ll remember things from years ago (and he’s only five). So if you tell him you’re going to do something, you better bloody well do it otherwise he will feel devastated because changing plans on him is not something that goes down very well. Despite being pretty ‘happy-go-lucky’ he actually feels that quite deeply.

There’s so much more I could write about it, but I could be here all day.

I just wanted to share with you a wonderful tool I have come across which is helping me understand my son a bit better. Being a Mum is by far the most challenging thing I’ve ever done, (yes I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true) and I feel so blessed that my sons chose me to guide them through this part of their life. I love picking up new things for my toolbox to help me be a better Mother and this is a big help – and one that will help me in many years to come.

If you wanted to find out more check out www.brainfocus.co.nz for more information!



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