Emotional Gear

A person’s ability to remain flexible, adaptive, coherent, energised and stable by monitoring their emotional responses, understanding their bodily sensations and using their thinking brain to make informed choices.

Most children, who live in a stable family setting, grow up to have a stable emotional gear that allows them to cope with positive and negative situations. However, more and more children are experiencing mental health issues that have a significant impact on their learning potential. If a child is exhibiting learning difficulties and extreme behaviour, often the Emotional gear is underdeveloped or has stalled, effecting the whole mechanism. There are four factors to consider: 

  • Attachment Theory: Attachment theory is a psychological model that attempts to describe the dynamics of long-term interpersonal relationships between humans. Children who do not form strong attachments can exhibit difficult behaviours.
  • State of mind: A state of mind makes the brain work more efficiently, tying together relevant (and sometimes widely separated) functions with a “neural glue” that links them in the moment. If you play tennis, for example, each time you put on your shorts and shoes, pick up your racket, and head for the court, your brain is actively creating a “tennis-playing state of mind.” In this state you are primed to access your motor skills, your competitive strategies, and even your memories of prior games. If you are playing a familiar opponent, you’ll recall her moves, her strongest hits, and her weak spots. All of these memories, skills, and even feelings— of competition and aggression— are activated together. Sometimes the adhesive holding a state together is flexible, enabling us to be receptive and open to bringing in new sensory data and new ways of behaving. You can learn from your opponent and respond to her game as it unfolds. Your state of mind is unique to this moment in time, a one-of-a-kind combination of neural firings, yet it is influenced by the past. You are ready and receptive But some engrained states are more “sticky” and restrictive, locking us into old patterns of neural firing, tying us to previously learned information, priming us to react in rigid ways. This locked-down state is “reactive”— meaning that our behaviour is determined in large part by prior learning and is often survival-based and automatic. We react reflexively rather than responding openly. An experienced tennis player who feels threatened by the skills of a younger opponent may lose focus if she takes the lead, and if he fails to adjust his play he may lose the game he was sure he would win. With any activity, we can be receptive or we can be reactive (Siegel, Daniel. Mindsight). Therefore, if you have had repeated bad experiences learning mathematics then you can develop a reactive state of mind that influences new learning in a negative way.
  • Lagging Skills: Lagging skills are skills that can negatively impact a child’s ability to self-regulate. They can be exhibited because of environmental factors and genetics
  • Trauma: traumatic experiences in a child’s life can have significant impact a child’s learning potential by impacting the neural path ways in the brain.