Routines are important for calmer brains
and for Families!
and for Families!
Did you know the brains of children really like routines... and do not like chaos? Predictability is comforting.
Mornings certainly can be a trying time for families.
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!
Through understanding brains and trying some of the following tips, you will be able to more easily reach this goal!
Establish daily routines
Consistent routines that happen 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.
- Set a schedule. When children know what happens first, next and last, this reduces the need for you to give constant reminders. Children become more self-directed as a result of an established routine.
- Start the routine with a healthy breakfast. Eating a well balanced breakfast that includes adequate amounts 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.
However, 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.
- 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.
- Do all you can to keep bedtimes 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.
Realize that your child doesn’t have a motivation to get out of the house quickly.
A child’s brain prefers to play, have fun, and to spend time with you. Your mature brain has the ability to override your desires to sit and have another cup of coffee, read the paper, take a
walk… etc. (Well most days anyway!)
· Use games to help motivate children. These also create a fun time spent together before having to separate for the day.
- Game Example:
STOP AND GO
Have your child start to get dressed, Say, “Go”.
Tell the child to keep going until you say, “Stop”.
Repeat this with varied long and short and long periods of time getting dressed.
- Turn on upbeat and fun music. Encourage your child to finish dressing by the time a song ends.
- Use empathizing statements with an understanding tone of voice, such as, “I know, sometimes you don’t like to get going early.” Or “I understand how much you would rather be playing right now.” Sometimes just knowing that someone else recognizes feelings, helps a child cope.
- Provide choices. When children are given options and are more directly involved in the activity, this results in more cooperation. For example: Ask, “Would you like to brush your teeth or comb your hair first?”.
Children’s brains pick up on emotional atmosphere very quickly…. And react to your stress level.
Reduced levels of stress lead to better memory, better problem solving, and increased ability to pay attention.
As tired as you might be, you can reduce stress levels by doing as much as you can in the evening. You can give baths, pack diaper bags/school bags, read/sign papers sent from school, prepare your work bag and lunches, lay out clothes, socks, shoes, and jackets, etc.
When it is then time to separate for the day, your child will likely feel more ready to go!