Did you know that one reason a child can get stuck in perseverative thought patterns is because of the rush of stress chemicals? Many of us try to avoid feeling stressed, however, if one’s body is used to receiving strong hits of adrenaline or cortisol our brains get stuck in a pattern that causes us to pursue more of this experience.
For example, when I’m getting ready to go to my Crossfit workout in the morning I typically move pretty slowly. It’s only when I check the clock and see that the workout starts in 5 minutes – the exact amount of time it takes to get there – that I truly perk up and get into gear. It looks like this: fill water bottle, throw shoes on, grab keys, race down the stairs, jump into the car, zoom off to the gym – all in the span of 5 minutes (the exact amount of time it takes to get there; how did that happen?).
Children who have challenging behaviors are used to the stress chemicals in their brains and bodies. In fact, it floods them with such predictability and consistency that, before long, they act in ways that will trigger this flood. We developed a holistic “5 Polka Dots” approach with techniques specially designed to safely teach your child that being in the different mode of “calm and relaxed” also feels good and has nice benefits.
One of our techniques is to set aside 15-minutes of uninterrupted play time because the direct attention floods your child’s brain with happy chemicals (e.g. dopamine, oxytocin, seratonin). This allows her to experience a “pick me up” of a more positive kind.
As for us adults and our tendency to rush, setting aside 15-minutes to mono-task and be mindful of what we are doing helps our brains experience these similar happy chemicals. That’s my focus for the week. Crossfit will be happy to have me there on time.