Your child's tantrums and misbehavior might not be acting up, but could well be them utilizing "heavy work" to help their body and brain feel better.
Whether you're a parent or not, chances are all of you will have witnessed a child throwing a tantrum in the middle of a grocery store, or the street, or anywhere. Screaming and throwing their limbs around because they can't get their own way. It can be a little embarrassing for a parent, especially if you can't figure out how to put a stop it.
It turns out that tantrums, jumping on the furniture, and various other ways in which our children might annoy us could well be something more than them just acting up. KidSpot explains that these actions are often a way for a child to self-calm. It is often referred to as "heavy work," and children tend to employ it when their proprioceptive system needs a kickstart.
Simply put, the proprioceptive system is our brain's ability to know where our limbs and body parts are without having to physically see them. KidSpot uses the example of passing a pen between our hands behind our back. For some children, their proprioceptive system needs a little assistance. That's when tantrums, misbehavior, and a wide variety of other actions come into play.
Jessica Offer is a mom to three daughters, all of whom have Autism Spectrum Disorder. She gave examples of how all of them use heavy work to cope with their every day lives in a number of different ways. One sleeps with a weighted blanket, another needs cuddles, while her youngest is calmed by wearing compression socks. Like we say, kids' ways of dealing with proprioceptive input can come in so many ways.
The key is to remember that just because your child is driving you up the wall with their behavior, they might not be doing so just to annoy you. It could well be heavy work that is helping them to stay calm, even if it doesn't appear like that on the surface. This isn't something that is reserved to children on the autism spectrum either. All children can employ it, and even adults exhibit it at times too.