As this is my first blog ‘Start in the right place’ seems to be a good title!
When working with children with challenging behaviour we need to start in the right place. We need to work from the bottom up! All will become clear!
The lower parts of the brain keep us alive; breathing, blinking and processing information coming in through our senses. It is concerned with survival. The upper parts of the brain deal with how we manage emotions and help us plan, make decisions and think before we act. When children have been through difficult situations or circumstances the brain works differently. The rational/upper parts of the brain are unable to function as well and the brain can function just in the lower parts helping to keep us alive, survival mode! If we are working in survival mode, rational discussion will be almost impossible!
So our intervention starts at the bottom of the brain. We aim to calm the senses so that the brainstem can have a bit of respite from being on permanent ‘guard duty’. Once we have established calm and helped children recognize what calm feels like we can then start to add in tools and strategies for recognizing emotions, managing behaviour and building self esteem. None of this will work if we haven’t first established a place of calm.
And the best bit is the children love it! Through sensory experiences and breathing practices we can settle things down quite quickly and then start to build. There is also no need to discuss the traumatic or difficult experiences as the sensory input is enough to start to make differences straightaway. And our intervention works just as well with children with additional needs as the core brain has a basic need for calm. As one Year 6 boy said “This is just what I need! It’s what I have been waiting for!