It can be frustrating at times not knowing which approach to take in relation to a child’s needs, wants and behaviors. Anything from choosing which school is most appropriate, to which playmates are best suited, to what parenting techniques to live by, can pose a lot of questioning and wondering if we are making the best decisions. If all children were the same, of course, it would be simple. But the beauty and the challenge is that we are all unique, intricate creatures with different personalities sculpted by the combination of our own inner and outer worlds. What works well with one child may be a great obstacle for another.
According to Gregory Caremans in his online courses on the Neurocognitive Behavioral Approach (NBA), our personalities begin to develop at a very early age, as early as the first three months of life! And this first stage of developing into the human we are to become happens in accordance with the function of our primitive or “reptilian” brain. It works closely with the amygdala, the part of our brain that switches on anytime there is a “perceived” danger, no matter how big or small. For a newborn, anything that it may need is automatically a perceived danger, in that it cannot do anything on its own to accomplish that need, hence it cries out for help.
Most of us are familiar with fight or flight, two modes our bodies can turn to when perceiving danger, but Caremans teaches in “Neuroscience for Parents: How to Raise Amazing Kids” there are actually three modes we may react with when in stress response – fight, flee or freeze. A key component to the reptilian brain is that its only agenda is self-survival. Nothing outside the survival of the individual will ever be dealt with in this part of the brain, the domain for other life functions lie elsewhere… An interesting thing occurs to our relationship with the fight, flee or freeze function. It sets the pace for us to have certain tendencies or traits as we develop our nature and respond to our environment. A child, or adult, may go through one or even all three of the modes in any given circumstance; however, one will tend to be the primary mode. This is the place where a child will evolve one way or another into that unique self.
For instance, a child who is a “fighter” will love a challenge and competitive games and sports, whereas a child who tends to flee will appreciate subjects and objects that have moving parts or imaginative play, and where there is lots of movement and change involved within an activity. A child who freezes most often (this is characterized by shutting down, looking down, the body language turns down, there may be tears or silence as the child goes into a protective mode) will be drawn to activities that involve caring for or nurturing something or someone.
There are more dynamics at play in the way in which a child interacts with the world and these involve the other parts of the brain – namely the paleolimbic, neolimbic and prefrontal structures. Having a deeper understanding about all the parts of our internal navigational system may be paramount in our development as parents, teachers, and caregivers as well as our own self-development. (I also highly recommend, Master Your Brain: Neuroscience for Personal Development for more information on brain function in child and adulthood.)
Knowledge is key to understanding how to ‘work with’ instead of ‘against’. I have found the knowledge I’ve gained from Gregory Caremans’ teachings on the NBA to be invaluable in my life as a mother, teacher, childcare provider and individual human being. These courses have enlightened me and my hopes in sharing this now is that it will help anyone who reads this empower themselves through this knowledge. There is no perk in it for me other than the enrichment that could come from an inspired, compassionate community raising little humans, and ourselves, together.
Gregory Caremans’ courses can be found on Udemy.com. Wait until they are on sale, which happens often and enjoy the insights you will learn.