Listening is not just sound waves coming through the air. The direction of the attention, the quality of how we feel, and the nature of our energy levels all influences listening. This internal dialogue of sensations is both biochemical and mental. Biochemical influences such as blood sugar, level of rest, and dehydration influence listening. Mental attitude such as curiosity, motivation, or inhibition also influence listening. The sensation in a child’s body speaks louder than words or directions, just as intonations are louder. (See free video called: Getting Sensational Attention)
Children may be able to hear us but can’t listen. An adult may have a similar challenge when the internal dialogue of what he/she feels (physically or emotionally) gets in the way of understanding what is being said. Researchers, Alfred Tomatis and Christian Vold, focus more on the problems of “listening” than “hearing.” The brain gets a great deal of “silent traffic” from a matrix of metabolic processes (sensations in the body) and they can get in the way of listening. Could this be one reason our children can’t “hear” us?
Take care of the basics on listening first by taking care of the sensations of the body:
TAKE CARE OF THE PHYSICAL FIRST
4 BASICS TO IMPROVE LISTENING
- Drink lots of water. Sounds simple? If you want your child to take better care of his/her self and have a better attitude have them drink water. The brain “eats” water as it rapidly grows. Drinking water makes “salt water—“an ionic charge that assists communication between thinking feeling, moving, and learning.
- Is your child hungryand does he/she eat balanced meals? Is the plate of food full a variety colors? Serving a variety of foods will insure that they are getting a balanced meal with all of the essential nutrients they need to think, grow, and learn. These nutrients are from the basic food groups, but especially: vegetables, protein (meats or legume + grain), and grain. Eat sugar? Eating sugar after a healthy meal wipes out benefits of those nutrients, so try to only have desserts on occasion. Keep in mind when you’re sick you need those nutrients to heal so staying away from sugar then is also important. Can’t get kids to eat veggies? Blend veggies into smoothies with fruits; hide finely chopped veggies by mixing them with grains, or in sandwich spreads.
Protein, grain, veggie, and oil have essential nutrients we need for healthy brains and bodies. Many people don’t realize that if just one food group is missing all other essential nutrients have a hard time getting absorbed into the body. Ideas for healthy snacks: eat food from the earth to the mouth (nuts, fruit, carrot, etc.).
- Rest and physical activity. Rest is essential for children that are rapidly growing or learning. Children “download” information while sleeping. Physical activity (especially aerobic and joyful movement) helps release pent up energy and physical tension. If children sit still (at computers) for too long their bodies could affect emotional health. Lack of movement can also make the mind “numb” to others. If a child is medicated or confined to sitting still for too long the body-to-brain information can’t communicate. Attention span can wonder, motivation decline, emotional instability increase, or even depression if movement is confined regularly. Instinctual movement clears busy minds, moves stagnation, and relieves stress. Let your child move when possible.
- Wellness Through Movement lessonsgives steps organic train Body-to-Brain awareness. (See A New Sensory Self-Awareness book and video lesson to be released May 15, 2015).
No Place Like Home Breath and Personal Bubble lesson trains attention to be both inside while centered in oneself with others. “Home” is a deep sense of self, the feeling sensation from long exhalations and attention inside. Attention follows the movement of the vibrational sound in the word “home.” Children are taught to feel the physical sense of “home” (or in Hawaii the Na’au). Differences while in “home” includes improvement in communication and compassion with less emotional reaction. Awareness of “Home” slows down reactions that are fueled by attention solely “out there” versus what is truly trying to be expressed from inside. Attention shifted from “out there” to inside finds more choices how to respond versus reactions. Kinder words and actions are used to communicate because there is a sense of centeredness even in an upset. The sense of “Home” (or Na’au) from sensory motor relearning takes attention away from “out there” to a deeper sense of the heart. The whole child comes into the situation and makes “out there” feel less intense, while curiosity finds a new way to response.
Still no improvement? Motor Patterns May Play an Important Role
For some children physical activity or attention “inside to out there” may not change behavior. What could be more important is how the body feels. Motor patterns can lock them into habitual behavior as it controls our emotions instead of us. A trained Feldenkrais Practitioner can observe movement to understand the inner dialogue stuck in patterns and causing dysfunction in comprehending or listening. Wellness Through Movement (WTM) games integrate body-to-brain communication: physical to emotional and emotional to mental, and mental and emotional back to physical. How we move (or motor circuits) reflect habitual ways of “thinking.” Scientific American Mind says, “Motor circuits (muscle movement) doesn’t just feed thinking THEY ARE THINKING.” WTM reeducates motor circuits to improve a sense of self and thus self-regulation and self-help. When mind and body work together character improves, and sense of self and awareness to one’s uniqueness is honored.