Children who have difficulty with self-regulation and executive functions usually find breaks from routine challenging.
All the things that make up their daily rhythm are changed. They’re at home and not at school with their teachers and friends. Children can become overwhelmed by these changes. The routines they usually rely on are gone or changed. Stress abounds!
In addition to that, the uncertainty of our current pandemic is stressful to parents too. This means that it’s not the time to be a perfect parent. Don’t expect yourself to be in top parenting form. These are unusual times. Do the best you can for both you and your child(ren).
When you and your child are stressed, self-regulation will be at a low point. It’s harder to plan and organize but that’s what’s needed. Thinking flexibly is more difficult too when you’re stressed. This is what I hope to be able to help you with.
Here are some things you can do.
Make sure you and your child are Calm, Alert, and Nourished.
1. Be calm
We know the calmer adults are the calmer children are. Check out Calm Adults, Calm Children for a discussion of what your emotions mean to children.
One way to help remain calm is to get lots of exercise. Here are some resources you can try for in-home exercise:
Search online for “free exercise for kids” to find more.
Don’t forget your children can go out in the yard/garden for free play so long as they stay a good distance from others. Free time to run and play are critical to children’s ability to cope, remain calm and to eat and sleep better.
Be sure to make time for calming and enjoyable sensory activities. Take the time to relax with Turtle Breathing. Here are some simple instructions to guide you and your child:
Do some yoga – try Cosmic Kids Yoga or search for “free yoga for kids”. Yoga helps combine Turtle Breathing with slow focused movement. It gives such a good break from worries.
You and your child need some quiet time with things you enjoy. It might be warm baths, flashing lights, sounds of nature, spinning fans … all those sensory experiences they enjoy. Quiet time with favorite books can also restore a sense of calm.
Give you and your child breaks from the news. Make a rule that you’ll check only two or three times a day. Let yourself look at the news for only a certain number of minutes. A lot of the information we’re receiving can just add to your stress level. It’s usually best to limit it.
Schedule exercise, yoga, and calming activities. The goal is to catch you and your child before stress mounts up too much.
2. Be alert
Do things that you and your child enjoy. If your child is a fan of certain YouTube channels, videos, or whatever, schedule in time to indulge. There’s nothing like a favorite activity or topic to sharpen your mind.
Keep bedtimes as close to normal as possible. Make sure you and your child get lots of rest. It’s one of the best defenses against stress.
Also, if you or your child aren’t feeling well, don’t push for self-regulation. Just ease off and try again when you’re feeling better.
3. Be nourished
Make sure you and your child eat regularly. Try your best to have a balance of protein, fruit, and vegetables. At times like these when stress levels may be up, sweets and carbohydrates are the go-to foods. Do your best to sneak in other foods that fuel real energy and better moods.
Check out our article What’s a tummy got to do with self-regulation? for more information.