As described in No-Drama Discipline by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D., the act of identifying the feeling and verbally naming it uses the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex of the upstairs brain. By engaging this part of the brain, the amygdala of the lower brain can calm down and be less reactive. The amygdala no longer must remain on alert for danger. So, if your child is really starting to melt down, remember to try to connect with him and try to engage his upstairs brain. Do this by helping him label how he is feeling to engage the thinking, upstairs brain to calm down the lower, reactive part of his brain. This will help you, then, be able to help him move to the next step of problem-solving the situation.
Peg Renz, M.S., LPC