for Calmer Brains and for Families
Did you know the brains of children really like routines … and do not like chaos? Predictability is comforting.
Mornings can be a trying time for families because they can lack that comforting predictability. As a caring parent, you have the challenge of trying to get a lot accomplished in a short amount of time and want to leave home with everyone in a positive mood, ready for learning — and all wearing shoes!
Consistent routines happening in nearly the same way each day, provide a sense of predictability for young children. The brain feels comfortable and safe when it knows what to expect next. To establish a consistent routine, understanding children’s brains and trying some of the following tips, you will be able to more easily reach this goal.
1. Set a schedule.
When children know what happens first, next and last, it reduces the need for you to give constant reminders. Children become more self-directed as a result of an established routine.
2.Start the routine with a healthy breakfast.
Eating a well-balanced breakfast including adequate amounts of protein provides the brain with the nutrients to function well. Research shows children who eat a healthy breakfast a have a more stable mood throughout the day. Eating sugary cereal, doughnuts or sweetened juices will result in the brain needing food again only 30 minutes later. The brain then feels stress and releases stress chemicals. As a result a child may experience feelings of agitation, aggression and anxiety. Young developing brains do not yet know how to control all of these feelings. This is why it is called, “out of control” behavior.
3.Ensure everyone has had enough sleep.
Sleep enhances cognitive functioning and influences moods. Having enough sleep contributes to a more positive mood. When the brain lacks the sleep it needs, brain systems become out of balance. Children’s (and adult) brains become more easily agitated when sleep deprived.
4.Do all you can to keep bedtime and bedtime routines as consistent as possible.
Provide calm activities like reading a book, giving a massage, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music as part of the bedtime routine. Eliminate watching television or using other electronics with bright lights prior to bedtime routines. Provide “brain calming” foods as a bedtime snack such as warm milk, a banana, toast with almond butter or oatmeal with a bit of peanut butter added.
Deborah McNelis, MS.Ed., Early Brain Development Specialist and founder of Brain Insights, LLC,is the award winning author of, The Brain Development Series. She has also collaborated to create Naturally Developing Young Brains, and the Redleaf Press Brain Development Series for early childhood educators. Deborah has additionally created the Love Your Baby App, the valuable Creating Great Connections newsletter, the Early Childhood Brain Insights blog and the NEW Loving a Baby print.
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