Why Do Children Go to Lala Land? June 13, 2015 09:28

Every year we have children who appear to lose focus and daydream. I found this article by Paul R. Scheele that explains why students go to "LaLa Land" instead of asking for support.

It's natural to ask for help during challenging times. But why are some people comfortable reaching out, while others are anxious and restrained?

According to a study from the University of Wisconsin, our willingness to ask for help appears to be regulated by two completely different brain systems—one detects threats and one is responsible for achieving goals and bonding with others.

"A balance of two important systems can influence an individual's behavior and emotional expression in times of need," says Ned Kalin, lead author of the study and chair of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin Medical School.

"The findings suggest that how open an individual is willing to be in asking for help may depend more than we thought on how secure that individual feels at any given time in a supportive relationship," he says.

In the study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Online, researchers separated 25 monkeys from their cage mates. For 30 minutes the researchers measured the frequency each monkey made "coo calls" to signal for social support. Researchers then scanned the monkeys' brains for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior.

The brain scans revealed that monkeys who called out for help most had more activity in the right prefrontal cortex—the region responsible for achieving goals and bonding with others—and less activity in the amygdala, responsible for detecting threats. On the other hand, monkeys that called for help less frequently had less activity in the right prefrontal cortex and more in the amygdala.
So why wouldn't the animals experiencing the greatest threat and most fear be more apt to call for help?

They're frozen, Kalin explains in the study. "We showed that some monkeys will become inhibited and freeze when they're frightened, especially when a predator is nearby and the monkey believes that it hasn't yet been discovered by the predator. We observed that the greater the fear, the less likely it was that the animals would call for help."

The authors believe that the same may be true for human relationships. "When a person feels safe enough in a relationship to express his or her vulnerabilities, this appears to be associated with a decrease in amygdala activity and an increase in prefrontal cortex activity. As relationships become more secure for the people involved, it's likely that changes in amygdala and prefrontal cortex activity may be responsible for the accompanying increase in sharing of intimate feelings."

Do your students feel anxious about asking for support? My upcoming video, "Overcoming the Fear of Asking" will break through the barrier that students possess and help them fee comfortable with asking.  Learning to ask in a hostile environment with teachers who do not embrace questions is an art taught in this video series. Watch for the announcement of it's availability.

Jack Canfield says, "If you don't ask, you already have a 'no. So at least give the universe a shot at it by asking."

I say, "If  you don't ask, the answer is "No." If you do ask, you get a 50% chance of getting help and getting a yes. I'd go with the better odds."