Monkey See, Monkey Do…The case of Mirror Neurons

If you missed my previous post, “No Joy Ride Home today”, I started to talk about Mirror Neurons.  I would encourage you to take a minute and read it before you dive into this post – it will help set the stage for why this is such an important topic.

Let me first start with a brief and simple description of how “mirror neurons” work.  When you are around someone in a bad mood you have a good chance of mimicking that person’s behavior – these are mirror neurons.  These mirror neurons give you the ability to empathize and connect deeply with another’s emotions (empathy), yet cause you to act out and mimic the behavior without even knowing it.

When you are around someone who is happy, do you find yourself happy? Do their emotions rub off on you?  Do you start acting happy like they are? I know I do and I love it!  When the mirror neurons fire up, I mimic the happy jolly person I am around!  This is how happiness spreads to others.  Unfortunately, this is also true for someone who is in a bad mood and around other people.  The bad mood can spread like a wild fire.  Without getting too technical here, you connect with your son/daughter on a deep emotional level.  You feel their pain and hurt.  Your mirror neurons start firing up and what you see…you do!  It’s as simple as, “Monkey see Monkey do!”

Why do we cry at movies and why do we get so connected and wrapped up in emotions when are sports teams are playing?  Mirror Neurons!  When our kids are playing a sport, why does their unpleasant mood takeover our cheery disposition?  Mirror Neurons.  If you would like more info on mirror neurons, check out this video clip by Nova.

Have you seen this happening with your own kids?  They have a bad game, get in the car and the mood of everyone takes a spiral downwards.  What have you found that works to prevent their bad moods from spreading?  Share your stories and suggestions – everyone can benefit and hopefully we will all have more pleasant rides home after our games.

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