TOOLS FOR GROWING THEIR BEST BRAINS

WAYS TO BUILD YOUR CHILD’S RESILIENCE AS 2020 DRAWS TO A CLOSE

It’s that time of the year where life cranks up a few notches. Term 4 is drawing to a close with only 3-4 weeks left of the school year and the end-of-year things have already begun. As life gets busier, kids get tired and the cracks begin to show.


As a mum of two and teacher of 24, I’m pretty familiar with the signs of tiredness in kids. Putting it simply, kids have less resilience when they’re tired. As their adults, we can help them hugely if we notice the signs and fill their tanks, before they lose it completely.


Tired kids get upset more easily, are less able to negotiate or be flexible about things. Like my 5 year old today whilst sobbing, “She looked at me and I didn’t like it!” 


Their pace of movement changes under stress. Slowing down might look like a dramatic slump on the floor, a reluctance to do things or to move. Speeding up could be racing around, hitting, yelling and being more reactive than usual. 


A child has many tanks that need to be regularly topped up. I’m a ‘fill my car up when it’s on empty’ kind of girl, but I don’t take that same approach with my kids. For the coming weeks, I’m filling their tanks to overflowing because if I don’t, there will be meltdowns galore. 


Here are 4 ways to keep your kids ‘topped up’ to help build their resilience.

  1. SLEEP

Sleep has the biggest impact on how we feel, react and respond to what’s going on around us. So first and foremost, make sure your kids get enough. Whether it’s a strict schedule, lots of cuddles or reading in bed, do what you need to do for them to have 9-11 hours. If you want some tips for getting your kids to sleep on hot nights, read this blogpost from last week. 

  1. NUTRITION

My kids have been running on quick meals and snacks for the last week due to lots of dance rehearsals and their end of year shows. These next few weeks are all about nutrient dense food to support their mood, concentration and energy.

-Whole foods not packets. 

-Veggies or fruit with every meal

-Weekly treats not every blimmin day

  1. THE ESSENTIALS FOR MAMMALS

We need these to feel our best and to stimulate feel-good chemicals in our brains and bodies. Do your kids get these on a daily basis? My Amazing Brain, the brain-based activity book for 4-10 year olds, includes HEAPS of ideas on each of these.


Connection

-spend quality time with them several times per day

-sit with them, look at them, talk with them

-do you look at your phone more than you look at them?

-check in with them, make sure they’re ok


Movement 

-walk, run, jump, climb, play sports EVERYDAY

-figure out what movement they enjoy… fast and quick, slow and strong, dancing, chasing or sports

-do they move more than they watch screens?

-encourage lots of free movement time


Nature

-fresh air and sunshine everyday

-water, dirt, grass and gardens

-play outside whenever possible

-we are part of nature!


  1. EMOTIONAL REGULATION

Coach and motivate your kids through their tricky emotions. Notice their signs when they are starting to feel upset/tired/frustrated so you can try to avoid a full meltdown. (Notice your own too, you lovely parent!)


-”I can see you’re feeling upset (crying for the 7th time). It’s ok. Let’s sit and read a book together.”

-”I can see you’re running out of energy (refusing to do anything). That’s ok. Let’s have a good snack to get you moving again.”

-”I need some fresh air (aka you’re driving me nuts), let’s go for a walk”

-”Gosh I am feeling so tired (when it’s THEM who is tired), will you sit with me for a minute? A little rest will make me feel better.”

-”I can see you guys are getting to each other (aka siblings constantly arguing), let’s go to the park for a while.”


Talk to them with patience and understanding as much as possible (even when you are screaming inside!!) and remember… they are learning their emotional regulation from you, so if you lose your shizzle under pressure, you are teaching THEM to behave that way. 


Notice the amazing things they’re doing and TELL THEM

-Thanks for helping your sister

-Wow, you cleaned your room

-I love how you unpacked your school bag

-I’m proud of the year you’ve had


The end of year is busy for us all. Slow down as much as you can, take a breath and keep an eye out for signs that your child is tired or overwhelmed. 


Victoria Jenkins, author of My Amazing Brain, is a primary school teacher and mother of two. My Amazing Brain has lots of activities that help YOU to help check in with your child, build their resilience and do things that are good for developing brains. 


Visit www.brainessentials.nz for more information or to purchase copies for your children, this festive season.