How difficulties in childhood can affect us for life

By Leah Fogliani, O'Neill Kinesiology College

Learning is something we all go through, and we all battle with in some way.

If you have a child struggling with classwork or learning in general, it can be frustrating. You want to make things better for them, but you might not know how.

First of all, you must sort out whether it is an undiagnosed learning disability. A learning disability or difficulty is not the same thing as an intellectual disability, and it’s not laziness. Children with learning disorders are typically of average or above average intelligence, so it can be frustrating for them to have these issues.

According to the Child Development Institute, learning disabilities fall into five areas:
• Spoken
• Written
• Arithmetic
• Reasoning
• Memory

Secondly, it could be as simple as having a slight hearing impairment that causes them to miss what the teacher is saying, or not quite grasping the foundations of a concept so they fall behind when the lesson advances. The problem can be compounded by the fact that children can often be embarrassed to speak up and approach the teacher. This can trigger a snowball effect of problems where they fall further and further behind.

You might not even realise your child has a difficulty. According to Raising Children Network, other common signs include:
• Disliking reading
• Can’t write ideas down even though they talk about interesting things
• Messy handwriting
• Trouble spotting sounds and syllables in words
• Under confident with schoolwork.

It could also be something else entirely
One experience, and a negative one at that, can affect children for years to come. These negative experiences are very individual and what seems scary and problematic to one person might not be an issue to another. It gets embedded in the subconscious; it gets locked away and stored until another experience triggers it to rise to the surface. The child begins to feel unsafe and underconfident.

They will likely carry this through life and feel flustered and shy away from these things in adulthood too. It’s a shame that it can stem from something relatively small. For example, they may not have quite understood multiplication the first time they were exposed to it. It could have been as simple as the teacher didn’t explain it in a way that the child understood. But if it gets stuck in the child’s head that because they were no good at it once, they won’t be good at anything to do with numbers, that’s when a learning difficulty can arise.

In our clinic, we see many children (and adults) who have these roadblocks. It can be very discouraging and make the person feel stupid. But it usually isn’t a case of not being intelligent enough; it’s a psychological block in the brain that is stopping people – children and adults – from learning and growing.

Children typically act out differently to adults when this happens. Kids tend to act up physically because they don’t know how else to address their problems. You, as their parent might just think they’re acting up, think they’re hyperactive, or that they’re naughty. And they’re not. Adults on the other hand, rationalise things. And find ways of avoidance.

How you can help your child
• Make the school year transition smooth. In the months beforehand, get to know their school or classroom together. Find out in advance how the day will be organised, the layout of the school grounds and where their class is, what children are expected to bring each day, and so on.
• Build up their confidence. Encourage and support their efforts. And as much as you may be frustrated with what appears to be laziness, try not to get angry.
• Homework routine. Your child should have a space to concentrate. This ideally should be somewhere quiet, with few distractions, and with plenty of stationery and supplies.

How you can help yourself
Why are we talking about stress? Because stress creates a loss of what we call brain integration. Brain integration means having access to all your subconscious processing functions so you are in the optimal learning mode. Now, it’s important to know that very few people have full brain integration. And it’s precisely because we don’t know how to overcome it.

For example, if you come across a situation that is stressful and reminds you of what you experienced previously (public speaking or an awful authority figure), and that fear is strong enough, you will have brain dysfunction in a similar situation – and you will fail again. It is a classic loop system. You must break through this block or you will keep experiencing the same thing over and over again.

A trained Kinesiologist can help you – or your child – uncover what it is that is stopping you from growing and fulfilling your full potential in life.

To find out more, visit O’Neill Kinesiology College. Call the practitioners on (08) 9330 7443 or visit the website oneillcollege.com.

Note: The views and advice expressed on this blog post are those of the author and are not representative of the Pregnancy Babies & Children's Expo.

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