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The brain's Motor Cortex

This is the part of your brain that drives your physical actions, be them couch potato actions, or at the other end of the spectrum with hyperactive, bounce off walls actions.

The movements that the motor cortex control are the voluntary, or skilled movements, standing up, walking, catching a ball etc.

When we see a child (or adult for that matter) bouncing off walls, we tend to think of this as a behavioral issue and them being “out of control”. Their behavior may appear very out of control as their motor cortex is receiving signals telling them they need to move.

Now you’re wondering where these signals are coming from right? Well, there are many signals we can receive that tell us to move, a hot mug will signal your hand to pull away if you try and touch it, a knock at the door signal us to get up and answer the door.

If we were to go back in time and think of a caveman, who had to be constantly on guard in case of animal attack, they were ready to run for their lives if they saw a wild bear for example.

This part of the brain (the amygdala) still signals the motor cortex in to action if it perceives a threat, but these days the threats are not generally life threatening. If a child is having feelings of anxiety or excitement, or perhaps even discomfort their motor cortex may receive the signal to go into hyper drive.

On the flip side, if there is no excessive stimuli and they are in a calm environment, they may be able to relax and be in a calmer state.

This is not always a black and white situation, however, we can do things to support a calmer environment and promote a less active motor cortex.

Something to be mindful of is to attempt this incrementally, do it slowly and you’ll find it less jarring for them and meet less resistance.

One great way to slow things down is with music, create yourself a soundtrack with their favourite music and start by matching their pace, start with some fast music and with each song, slow down the beat (60-80bpm is optimal for matching a resting heart rate).

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