Primitive Reflexes

Recently I had a very interesting 2 days attending the “Drawing the Withdrawn” course. It was about integrating primitive reflexes in children. Primitive reflexes are the survival instincts and unconscious movements that a child is born with, like the startle reflex, sucking reflex or bonding reflex (just to name a few).

Reflexes are jerky and uncontrolled movements that are made from the brain stem. They are the automatic movements that a baby makes on sensory stimulation, like skin contact. A baby will develop these in utero and are needed once the baby is born to allow for a smooth transition into the world. As a baby develops these reflexes are then integrated into controlled and conscious movements, which access more mature parts of brain.

It is very important for a baby to go through the developmental process of integrating these reflexes into smooth and controlled movements. If a reflex is not integrated then it can lead to physical and emotional stress. These primitive reflexes can also redevelop in our lives after a stressful period – as we resort to the unconscious safe mode.  Have you ever found yourself after a stressful period resorting to your fight or flight mode – without thought?

In relation to learning if these primitive reflexes are still present in a child, then they will not be able to embrace learning as their brain is still in the primitive and unconscious movement stage. When our brain develops out of these reflexes, it stimulates higher parts of the brain, therefore allowing for learning to occur easier.

This also affects a child’s self-confidence level as if the child does not feel safe and secure within themselves then they lack the ability to feel comfortable in a new situation or new learning.

All in all it is very important that we aware of these reflexes in ourselves and our children, especially as our children are developing and growing. As until a baby feels safe and secure in the world, they will hold onto these unconscious movements, as it represent safety for them.

Until my next blog, enjoy your children.



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