Safety is one of the most, if not the most, important feelings our children need to succeed. It is only when children feel loved, safe, and secure that they can truly thrive. Otherwise, they get lost in “fight or flight” behaviors that prevent information from getting to the upper levels of the brain where higher order learning takes place. The lack of feeling safe is also difficult for children to understand and explain to us. That is why it is our job, as parents, caretakers, teachers, therapists, and medical professionals, to recognize what children’s behaviors are really telling us. Are we truly seeing “bad” behavior because a child just wants to misbehave or are we seeing a child who is “coming out sideways” because they do not feel safe?
Misbehavior can come from a multitude of inner places. Stress and anxiety, difficulty processing information, tactile, auditory, or visual sensitivities, and even vestibular deficits may be the real culprit for meltdowns and temper tantrums.
Retained Primary Reflexes also play a huge role in how a child feels, acts, and functions. Often dismissed as being unimportant, Primary Reflexes are our earliest movements that create the foundation of brain development. When these reflexes do not mature or integrate well in early life, we can almost always bet that a child will not feel safe and will be stuck in their brainstem where fight or flight reactions are based. They will lack the inner control mechanisms that help them to regulate their behavior and will constantly use compensatory strategies to keep up with little or no gratification. This is when we see behavioral issues but, again, is it misbehavior or a cry for help? The good news is that unintegrated Primary Reflexes can be addressed with some extra help from a professional with training in this area.
At Brainchild Institute, the first thing we discuss with families is the need for children to feel loved and safe. We help parents learn to interpret their child’s behaviors so that underlying problems the child is struggling with can be addressed. Otherwise, parents may waste time and energy focusing on the symptoms of the problem and not the problem itself. We teach parents techniques for addressing retained Primary Reflexes so that children can learn to feel in control of their minds and bodies.