Back to school is upon us! This can be one of the hardest times to get kids to sit still, chill out, and do their homework. I know this firsthand because I have two elementary school kids this year and we’ve already had trouble getting them to focus. I know every kiddo has different struggles with this, and they’re all unique.
Oftentimes as a parent, we’ve tried absolutely everything. We’ve tried the wobble boards, fidget spinners, and encouraging movement breaks to try and obtain better focus and attention. So if you feel like you’ve tried everything, it’s still not working and you’re left feeling like you just want to pull your hair out – I have been there!
I want to dive into a short explanation of what the brain’s role is in all of this. Once we understand this, we can help our kids to better unpack and understand why they might be struggling. Then I will give you some answers on what to look for, how to help them, and make this all easier.
What Role Does the Brain Play in All of This?
The brain has a specific role in focus and learning. There are different areas in the brain that do different things. When we think about a six-year-old that is struggling to sit still, we don’t often think of the brain having an on/off switch, but it actually does and it’s called the limbic system.
That limbic system is located in the middle brain and it looks at what’s coming in and where to direct the traffic. So if there’s more stress, protective mode, hyperactivity, and anxiousness that’s coming in, it’s going to direct it more to areas that are fight or flight or protective responses.
On the contrary, if things are relaxed and the input coming in is easy and calm, then it’s going to direct it to the cerebral cortex, to the outer areas, the focus areas specifically for learning. Especially the hippocampus which is the area that focuses on situational awareness, memory, learning, focus, and all those things that we want our kids to do when they’re working on that memory verse, spelling test, or math homework. But if there’s not a good filtering system and that limbic system is getting bad energy sent to it, it’s not going to know what to do or where to send that information.
stress comes from our Environment
So when we look at these different brain functions, we have to ask, what is over-fuelling that limbic system that’s going to take it out of that focus zone? As a pediatric chiropractor, there’s really one area. The short answer to this is that stress comes from our environment. It comes from either the physical or emotional side of it. It can come from the foods, diet, and things that we consume.
All these things get wound up and they cause our kids to get stuck. We see it mostly come from either an emotionally stressful pregnancy or a difficult physical birth process. With kids, those two traumas cause their body, or nervous system, to be more wound up and that over-fuels their brain.
So we can then look at that from a body standpoint using one of our scans called the EMG. It simply looks at where stress, tension, and energy are held. When we can see that there is a lot of energy in the neck and shoulder regions, we know all of that is noise going up into the brain. If the brain is receiving too much noise, that limbic system will simply not want to filter it to that upper cerebral cortex to help kiddos focus and be calm. It’s gonna send it down, stay in protection mode and communicate to your kiddo that they need to move, be hyper and that they shouldn’t focus but instead stay distracted by everything else around them because they’re in a protective state.
I love this quote:
“The function of the nervous system is to perceive the environment and coordinate the behavior of all other cells.”
If we feel like we’re in fight or flight all day or if kids have symptoms like anxiety, anger, or fear – they’re going to want to move all the time. When they’re perceiving that from their body, that then floods their brain, and then their brain can’t coordinate it all.
So if your kiddos are struggling to focus, pay attention, and be able to spend the time they need to learn their spelling list or math problems, what we really need to look at is the perception, and what’s going into the brain. If there’s too much going into the brain, it’s gonna flood that limbic system, and that hippocampus is going to turn off.
The cool thing is, there are ways to take care of the noise that’s coming into your child’s brain. It’s what we work on every single day in our office. When we work with kids in a pediatric chiropractic office, we help the body and brain be able to calm that perception, better coordinate, and work through those behaviors.
A lot of times everything that you’ve tried at home is the right idea and they’re going to help your kiddo, but we’ve got to help with the signaling first. That’s really what we do and why I wanted to dig into this topic because I know how frustrating it can be if your child is not sitting still for schoolwork. We want to help you through that. We want to unpack your unique case and the unique way your kiddo learns.
Please check out our directory to find a PX Doc near you so you can start helping your kiddo better be able to sit still, focus and dominate that school work!