"This may be the my most important podcast episode yet."
"The #1 cause of Kids Meltdowns & Dysregulation is Chronic Fight or Flight."
So you have probably heard of fight or flight but if not it is simply a physical response in our bodies that happens automatically when our bodies feel it is in danger. Fight or flight occurs due to to the sympathetic nervous system that triggers the adrenals to release many hormones but particularly stress hormones and adrenaline if the mind and body feels it is in danger. Fight or Flight Response can lead to an intense feeling of anxiety or fear that takes over the body and the physical response that appears somewhat as an adrenaline rush so think heart rate goes up, sweating, breathing more quickly and heavily, sometimes trembling, just overall feeling on edge… so you can probably already see where I am going with this and that is it’s connection to our kids’ self regulation and meltdowns and tantrums and hyperactivity.
So the reason we are designed like this especially back in the day like Im talking cavemans when there was life-threatening dangers all around us. A rustling bush could be a lion trying to kill you so when our bodies went in fight or flight it gave people the adrenaline rush and stress response they needed to survive. However, in these days, fortunately, real dangers are few and far in between so instead what happens now in 2020….
"If your child’s body spend to much time in fight or flight mode. It can have negative effect on our health and other areas not just meltdowns or hyperactivity or difficulty focusing."
When our bodies go into fight or flight, our body is trying to prioritize, so anything it doesn’t need for immediate survival is placed on the back burner. This means that digestion, reproductive and growth hormone production and tissue repair are all temporarily halted. Instead, your body is using all its energy on the most crucial priorities and functions. So this where we see some of the harmful effects of prolonged stress.
Staying in prolonged fight or flight mode or constantly being in and out of fight or flight mode is a chronic stress to our immune system therefore weakening our immune systems.
That’s why stress is pretty much a precursor to any illness like spend some time on WebMD and stress will most likely always be at the topic. This is all why knowing about fight or flight is sooo important and why I always say I believe figuring out your child’s self-regulation formula is one of the most important things we should be working on with our kids because
"It affects our health, our attention, our ability to follow directions, our ability to learn, our peace, our happiness, everything."
What to do?
So Step 1 is all about figuring out what your child’s triggers and there are 6 main causes and figuring the time of the day the your child is most dysregulated whether that be meltdowns, not listening, really hyper or really emotional, or whenever they have the hardest time focusing.
Figuring out your child’s triggers and the time of day is so important because knowledge is power and this way you can be one step ahead to prevent meltdowns and dysregulation. I truly think this is all connected but if your child has any sensory processing difficulties which is pretty much any child who shows any type of dysregulation because all kids senses are still developing so all kids experience this in one form or another just some kids experience this more than others but if you have every heard of me talk about the traffic jam that happens in our brain when our minds can’t process all the sensory input coming in. So when this sensory overload happens a lot of times is our bodies go into fight or flight mode so a lot of kids brains when that traffic jam occurs their bodies interprets this as they are in danger. So I am not going to go in great detail on this right now but to learn more definitely check out my Sensory Series on my website befreeot.com or if you haven’t signed up for my Meltdown Manual Course, you can take Lesson 1 for free which goes over the top 6 causes of meltdowns.
Step 2 is all about desensitization. So right now there are certain times of day or certain things that are your child’s triggers aka their body is sensitized or used to immediately responding in that fight or flight mode so some examples might be transitioning back from school can cause sensory overload sending your child into fight or flight mode or maybe dinner time because they are picky eaters so food is overwhelming or maybe that is anything related to handwriting. So for Step 2 our goal is to help desensitize them so one way is by setting the sensory mood in order to meet their sensory needs. So let’s say it is meltdown city right when your child gets home from school or maybe before bed. It’s time to completely change what they are used to so to keep things very calm and relaxed during those times so maybe you can have your child wear noise cancelling headphones, have lights dim, maybe some candles or essentials oils going to help keep the atmosphere calm, instead of giving them access to the whole house to run around maybe keep it to one room to prevent any sensory overload. You can give them a deep pressure massage because we all know my golden therapy rule deep pressure is calming. The goal is to “desensitize” your child meaning that they learn to no longer associate anxiety with a certain time of day, event, or situation so pretty much their triggers are no longer triggers. So the goal is to desensitize your child by engaging your child in the situation, time of day, whatever their triggers are during these times to help them feel completely secure, safe, and relaxed going into the situation and during the situation….