Hey Kids! Freedom Begins in Your Brain

by Jul 3, 2014Addiction/Brain Science

Freedom begins in the brain!

Let’s celebrate our freedom to use our thinking brain!

Freedom is fought for and celebrated all over the world. The cool thing is that our personal freedom begins in our brain. The thinking brain (or prefrontal cortex for us grown-ups) is where kids learn to make choices. And those choices either lead to more freedom or less freedom.

The thinking brain is not fully mature in kiddos, but it develops every day. For example, my kids learned that if they chose to follow certain rules, they got certain freedoms or rewards. (Well, at least when I was being consistent!) In order to follow rules, they had to exercise their thinking brain muscle to do stuff they didn’t want to do so later they could do stuff they did want to do.

My Sad No-Beach Lesson

GPBP_02SmallWhen I was young, we spent the summers with my dad and step mom. In the morning, we were expected to make our beds before we could go out and play. One morning we got invited to go to the beach with some friends, but guess what? By the time they came, I hadn’t made my bed! No beach for me! I had lost my freedom to do what I wanted. I was a sad little girl that day.

However, my thinking brain remembered this very bad consequence, and I learned to discipline myself to make my bed every morning–at least in the summers!

Addiction = Losing Freedom

Losing your freedom to porn is even worse than losing a day at the beach. Viewing pornography can become an addiction. Imagine how it would feel to be driven by your brain to look at pornography instead of playing with your friends or having fun with your family? That’s what often happens to people who develop an addiction to pornography.

GPBP_07SmallWhen an addiction develops, the part of the brain that controls survival instincts (we call it the feeling brain) becomes convinced that it needs to see pornography in order to survive. And it sets up extremely strong cravings to push us to get what it feels we need. In fact, all addictions work this way and end up taking away the addict’s freedom.

Why? Because with an addiction the feeling brain gains control over the thinking brain. And the feeling brain is all about instant gratification—getting what it wants right now even if it can hurt you later on.

The thinking brain, on the other hand, can remember consequences and judge right from wrong. Given the chance, the thinking brain can make better decisions.

Takeaway Message for Kids

young boy thinkingHere are two concepts to teach kids as they mature:

  • Keeping my thinking brain in control of my choices = more freedom. (Yay!)
  • Allowing my feeling brain to drive my choices = less freedom. (No fun!)

As children mature, learning to keep their brains free from pornography (as well as other addictive behaviors and substances) boosts their freedom. And that leads to what we all want for our kids: the freedom to fully pursue a happy and meaningful life.

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.

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