Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

ECMMA: Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.


The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

The Over-Busy Child

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We can read a checklist of children’s development, making sure that the milestones have all been reached. But sometimes there is something we can’t quite put a finger on – something that makes us a little uneasy.

Here is one type of child I sometimes see. Often the parent will tell me that the pediatrician sees nothing amiss. But, in my experience, this kind of child is operating at a level of stress that will most likely increase as time goes on. If your child has any of the following characteristics, it’s time to start reducing the “total load.” 

This over-busy child “buzzes” around from thing to thing, not seeming to “settle.” It doesn’t mean that he or she can’t focus or can’t make eye contact – but the modus operandi is to be constantly cruising.Normally, kids get excited and then relax, they get interested and lose interest. They connect with what they are doing and with the people around them. It is normal for a child to be absorbed in something and not want to stop doing it. But it is also normal, when the child stops doing that activity, to refocus, to connect. And it is normal, when interrupted, for a child to interact with the interrupter. When a child is constantly moving from thing to thing – especially when ignoring attempts by adults or children to catch his or her attention, make eye contact – there is a “total load” issue to address.

These children, who seem to be buzzing around life in the cockpit of a private helicopter, are probably experiencing some sort of neurological disturbance. Something is causing the “on” button to stay “on.”

Toxicity. In my experience, this kind of hyperactivity is often related to toxicity. Toxins can come from many sources, but in general, “Children who develop autism have an impaired ability to detoxify their body from mercury and other heavy metals,” writes Dr. Harald Blomberg, originator of Rhythmic Movement Therapy.  I often refer this peripatetic kind of child to a homeopath who is experienced with children on and off the spectrum. There is a way in which homeopathy  can take the edge of this condition, supporting innate strengths, and detoxifying. This makes other movement, dietary, and behavioral interventions more effective.

Diet. Definitely eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, and anything artificial (including genetically modified ingredients) from the diet. If this seems too hard, start with eliminating the artificial stuff and the wheat. (Almost everything made with wheat comes in substitute form these days!) Patricia Lemer addresses some of the why’s and how’s in her article The Diet. There are also numerous helpful articles and resources on diet on the TACA website. These diets are not just for kids on the spectrum - they are good for reducing total load in general. Finding a nutrition coach, or a naturopath, may be a step to support your journey through a nourishment transition.

Cranial Compression. These busy, buzzy children usually have some degree of cranial compression. For example, cranial bones might be pressing on the vagus nerve, which makes calm well-nigh impossible. Kids veer between over-excitement and exhaustion.

Cranial compression can be caused by birth trauma (even “normal” births put a lot of pressure on the baby’s skull!) Twins in utero sometimes injure one another unintentionally, and once born, anyone can fall off a swingset or a bed – sometimes when no one is looking. Finding a good craniosacral therapist or chiropractor – one experienced with peripatetic children - can help, sometimes even solve, this problem. But parents and teachers can also use very simple, safe versions of these therapeutic tools to let off a little bit of stress every day.

Do It Yourself Techniques. Simple frontal-occipital holding is helpful, if the child is ever quiet enough to do it! It works when sleeping, too. Just very gently put one hand under the base of the skull, and the other on the forehead. Use no weight. After you’ve done it a while, you may feel a pulse. When the pulses balance out, the child quiets. Often there is a yawn or a sigh. This process can help to connect executive function to the survival brain. (For some other safe cranial “moves,” read Movement Matters Planes, Ears, and Babies: A Survival Manual).

Other kinds of movement integration can help a lot, too – holding the K-1 points (Under the Volcano), lots of jiggling and bouncing, swinging, singing and playing music with strong rhythmic patterns (chanting with drums is great!) Interestingly enough, holding children upside down helps, too – it recapitulates much of their gestation experience, and is a good way to go back and pick up the developmental pieces. These busy buzzy kids usually like to hang upside down.

Eliminating the Toxins, Preventive and Palliative. Because these “total load” conditions almost always contain a large component of toxicity, do as much as you can without adding to the toxic load. Prioritize dealing with the conditions the child has now. And prioritize the kinds of interventions that directly address the cause and don’t merely mask the symptoms.

Addressing the condition through diet and movement and other non-toxic holistic approaches is a win-win in every way. As the various systems of the body are freed up from dealing with the constant barrage of stressors, they become available for normal developmental processes. Just cleaning up and strengthening the child’s system allows healing to happen.

Love. And the most important de-stressor is plain old unconditional love. Which is a tall order. But we can usually do it for our kids, and the kids we teach. If a child feels loved, then that child can take the next step with you. And that is how human development was designed to work.

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