State Dependent Learning

State-dependent memory, or state-dependent learning is the biological process through which memory retrieval is heightened and most efficient when an individual is in the same state of being (consciousness, mood, emotion) as they were when the memory was formed.  Context-dependent learning is the process through which memory retrieval is heightened when an individual is in the same place or environment as they were when the memory was formed.
When your child is ALWAYS reactive in specific places or ALWAYS reactive when hungry, then your are likely dealing with a combination of things, and state-dependent learning and context-dependent learning may be at work.  
 
So?
 
Well, this means you have some additional ways of helping your child recall what they have learned previously about managing their emotions, such as using their words or taking a breath.
 
Example for hunger reactive child: Proactively give healthy snacks at two hour intervals to prevent the internal state of hunger which triggers reactivity.
 
Example for a school reactive child:  Play some happy music at home while teaching your child to deep breathe.  Then, on the way to school in the car play the same happy music and practice deep breathing.
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Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT 

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