You can’t reason with fear.
Fear doesn’t care that it appears mean when it throw objects at people.
Fear doesn’t know that calling names is disrespectful.
Fear doesn’t understand when you tell it that it’s not okay to destroy other people’s belongings.
Fear is FEAR!
Fear is a primitive, primal reaction in the brain that is present in order to keep us safe and alive.
That’s what fear is for.
So- what happens then? What goes awry?
Why do some kids (or teens or adults!) respond with FEAR that disguises itself as mean, disrespectful or aggressive?
Why do some kids have this primitive, primal reaction “at the ready”? Primed and at the ready to act at a moment’s notice to situations, experiences, or people that shouldn’t provoke a primal, primitive response?
Well, you may have read one of my previous blog posts titled “Fear Plays Tricks”-where I delve into real vs perceived threats. And if you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend spending a few minutes looking it over.
Regardless, that response to FEAR that I was talking about can be present due to varying factors, but one of the main reasons I see with kids I work with is because of an unintegrated (not finished) or current activation of, the MORO reflex.
The MORO reflex is the automatic movement pattern that helps keep us safe. It is the precursor to the startle reflex and is the “fight/flight” of the fight/flight/freeze response. This reflex activates the Sympathetic Nervous System which is the part of the nervous system that prepares us (just as it implies) – to FIGHT, or to FLIGHT from danger or a threat.
Once the stress hormones that were released by the activation of the fight/flight response take hold in the body- reasoning goes out the window.
You can’t reason with FEAR.
The person experiencing fear switches to survival mode and access to the parts of the brain that are capable of reasoning are shut down.
Trying to reason with someone whose brain has the perception that it is doing to DIE, is pretty much futile. The person doesn’t care that what they just said might hurt someone’s feelings, or that they may be damaging property. In that moment– they don’t care. In the grand scheme of things? They may- but in that moment– in that grip of fear, it doesn’t matter.
You can’t reason with FEAR!!
You may be thinking…”Ok, ok, I get it. You can’t reason with fear. So what CAN we do?”
Well, the answer to that question can be very different for everyone. But in my work, I help kids to get to a place where those types of dysregulated reactions happen less, with less intensity, and maybe even not at all. We accomplish that by working on the active MORO reflex over time, building new neural pathways, learning movements that calm that Sympathetic Nervous System, and learning co-regulation techniques that can be used with parent and child together.
Like I said above- you can’t reason with fear, and fear doesn’t care if it’s showing itself as aggressive, disrespectful or mean.
You can’t reason with fear- but you can get it to listen by working on the MORO reflex and by activating the Parasympathetic Nervous System (the rest and digest part of the nervous system) as well as the other strategies I mentioned.
In my work? Movement is the primary way that we get fear to listen, and it’s easier than you might think.
Want to know more? Get in touch. I’d be happy to speak with you.