I didn’t listen to him. I didn’t listen to his words that is.
I had just arrived at my 8 year old client’s house for our session. We had been having most sessions outside due to COVID-19 and I was setting up in the yard while his mother was getting him ready to come out. All of a sudden I heard screaming and crying coming from inside. It was him. He was having a meltdown and saying things like “Leave me alone” , “I don’t want to” and “I’m just tired”.
I went up to the house as his mother was coming out. I confirmed with her that it was him I was hearing and asked if it was ok if I went inside. She told me that was fine. So, I donned my face mask and went inside.
I found him in his room- wrapped up in the blankets he uses for comfort. He went to the other side of the room, sat down on the floor and covered his face.
I had heard his words. I had heard what he was saying before to his mother, but I didn’t listen. Instead, I listened to his behaviors. His behaviors were telling me that he had gone into a fight/flight protective response. The MORO reaction had been triggered.
Maybe, the reaction was from the (perceived) “sudden” change in routine. Even though it really wasn’t “sudden” at all since I see him every week, and I know that his mother is very good at preparing him for what his day looks like. But, never-the-less, he was reacting.
Regardless, I didn’t listen to what he was saying because I needed to listen to his behaviors. I needed to listen to his behaviors because behaviors are communication.
Every. Single. Behavior.
That’s right- there is a reason for every behavior that anyone exhibits.
As I listened to his behaviors- in other words, observed the way he was hiding in a corner, the way he had the blankets over his head, the way he turned away from eye contact, I knew that he was trying to tell me something.
And so- I responded. Not with words. Not with leaving him to “work through it”, but with movement.
I responded by asking him if I could do the Brain Gym® activity called Positive Points for him. And then I massaged his calf muscles- because when we go into fight/flight the muscles in the back of the body tighten. Next, I did another activity called Foot Lengthening, which helps give the body the sensation of safety and grounding. Lastly, I did an activity we call “Milk Shakes”. This is a rhythmic movement of the body that can be very calming to the nervous system.
All of these activities took a total of about 5-7 minutes. To be honest, I’m not even fully sure of that time frame because I was fully present with my client-with this 8 year old boy. But I will tell you that it was a short amount of time.
And you know what? Before I had even stopped doing Milkshakes with him, his system was more regulated. He suddenly sat up and said “Can we go outside now?”
We headed out for our session and finished the hour doing our Brain Fit “play”, “work” and “rest” like nothing had ever happened.
As I said- behaviors are communication.
Listen to them. They are trying to tell you something.