Early childhood reflexes and behaviors

Reflexes are unconscious motor reactions triggered by sensory impressions such as seeing, hearing, or feeling, which have been processed accordingly in the brain beforehand. Their neurological origin can be found in the cerebellum and brainstem.

Early childhood reflexes ensure the infant’s survival after birth. However, if they are not properly integrated during the first twelve months of life, the effects can be observed in motor residual reactions at any age. The timely development has not been properly completed, leading to movement patterns and reactions that do not correspond to the person’s age. Even in adulthood, it takes a great deal of effort for the body to control these reflexes, constantly overwhelming it. They hinder voluntarily executed movements, manifesting as clumsy behavior, lack of interest in sports, awkward movement sequences, reduced resilience to challenges, rapid exhaustion, or even illnesses. The main reflexes responsible for this are the Moro, ATNR, TLR, and STNR, all of which cause disturbances in balance and flexion and extension of the body. They trigger tonic patterns that cause the child’s head to fall backward and generate reactions that prevent a physiological movement pattern.

What do early childhood reflexes have to do with learning deficits or behavioral abnormalities?

People with incompletely integrated early childhood reflexes often feel like they are under constant tension. “Tension headaches,” nocturnal teeth grinding, tense shoulders, back pain, twisted postures while standing because it’s too exhausting otherwise, the feeling of constant overexertion, and the possible communication problems on different levels are just a few symptoms indicating that reflexes have not yet been fully integrated.

However, our everyday tasks’ implementation, from motor movement to emotional and intellectual coping, depends on the extent to which early childhood reflexes are integrated and postural reflexes are developed. This can be derived from brain research findings that have discovered that the cerebellum not only regulates all automatic movements but also modulates the higher emotional and mental processes. The better the early childhood reflex activity is integrated by the end of the second year of life, the more potential we have for our creativity and a relaxed life.

What can be the consequences of incomplete or insufficiently integrated early childhood reflexes?

It is quite common for some early childhood reflexes not to be sufficiently integrated. If an existing reflex has to be unconsciously fought against repeatedly, it consumes a lot of energy in conscious brain areas that would otherwise be available for learning processes. For example, it becomes difficult to hold a pen loosely while writing if an active grasping reflex is still present. The hand cramps and tires quickly due to excessive pressure.

If the writing tilts from the middle of the line to the (other) side, the paper is rotated 90° for writing, the head gets closer to the table during writing, or the feet are wrapped around the chair legs, these are all compensation strategies for coping with still active early childhood reflexes. Poor body posture and tilted head position also indicate insufficiently activated postural reflexes.

What are important early childhood reflexes?

Here you will find a selection of the most important early childhood reflexes that can be observed in many people – regardless of whether they are children or adults.

During diagnosis, early childhood reflexes show various symptoms.

If early childhood reflexes persist for various reasons, meaning they can still be observed in motor reactions to specific stimuli, they have a disruptive effect on our development. In children, we can already see poor posture, difficulties in gross and fine motor skills, balance system problems, and concentration disorders. These are all symptoms of non-integrated early childhood reflexes and lead to attention deficits, resulting in performance deficits. Even things like the sense of order and time cannot develop sufficiently.

This can then be recognized in their academic performance when those affected show deficits in their academic abilities (LRS problems, dyscalculia, reduced receptivity, rapid fatigue, and much more). This is then compensated by motor restlessness, “switching off,” or aggression in various forms.

From my practical experience, using the centering technique, kinesiological work, and the BalanceHIRO® method – exercises that I discover more and more, not only posture problems but also behavioral problems, as just described, can be positively changed.

More interesting knowledge…

… über frühkindliche Reflexe, sowie konkrete Übungen zur nachträglichen Integration und Zentrierung gibt es in meinem Kurs BalanceHIRO®