By Deborah McNelis, founder of Brain Insights and author of, The Brain Development Series.
Hopefully it has been a wonderful year for you! Everyone of us either contributing to or following PreK and K Sharing, has been dedicated to making an impact toward happy and healthy children.
It is a pleasure to be a part of this wonderful community, so I share this post with wishes for beautiful holiday enjoying every moment of this caring time!
To help make this time of year more enjoyable, hopefully these tips will contribute to happier brains for the children in your life or are helpful to share with other parents! (Many of these tips do apply to adult brains also!)
The brain likes the right amount of stimulation.The brain doesn't like to be bored and it also doesn't like to be over stimulated.
The brain also loves having fun, it likes using all of the senses, and thrives from physical activity. There also is a psychological need that makes a child seek attention. When a child is given positive attention and fun interaction, it is less likely that negative behaviors will result.
When a child is hungry, tired and not getting stimulated in a way that is fun and interesting it is more likely you will have to deal with acting out behaviors. Your child isn't trying to be "bad", his or her brain is just reacting to what it needs. Young children's brains are also of course not developed to the point of being able to control all of their feelings and impulses yet.
Children need the adults in their life to understand and offer support. Involving your child and interacting in fun ways while shopping will help keep your child's brain stimulated.
Involve your child in choosing gifts so they can experience the
benefits to the brain as a result of giving or donating to others
Name a color. Have your child look for and point out items with
that color as you shop
Have your child look for the first letter in their name printed on
items or signs as you shop
Give your child a suggestion for a way to move differently in
each aisle. For example you could say: "In this aisle walk on
your tip toes." or "This time take 3 steps then hop."
Encourage your child to describe how various items feel
Bring a coupon or photo from a flyer for items you plan to
purchase. Make a searching game. Have your child look for the
pictured item as you go through the aisles.
A child can play and learn for a good amount of time after eating a balanced meal. This will boot levels of feel good chemicals in the brain. But, if high sugar content foods and candy are eaten on an empty stomach, without the presence of adequate amounts of protein, this sends blood sugar levels sky-high. Then, 30 minutes later, a drop in the sugar levels can lead to aggression, anxiety, and hyperactive behavior.
Keep water and healthy snacks with you when you are away
from home to keep the brain from getting cravings and turning
to sugary drinks and fast food for meals
Provide meals that include adequate amounts of protein
Eat healthy foods before (or instead of) eating sweets. This will
help keep brain systems balanced and lessen the chance for
Put a place mat in the refrigerator with a variety of healthy
foods on it. Let your child know these are food they "get to"
choose from when needing a snack
Play is the way the brain learns best. When a child is using several senses, exploring, paying attention, and is trying things out in different ways, brain cells change and the child learns. Children need to participate and experiment… not watch. The brain also needs trial and error and a lot of repetition in fun and interesting ways. All of this is provided through play. It is important to keep this in mind when choosing gifts. Ensure toys do any or all of the following....
Provide an opportunity for direct interaction and manipulationGive a child a chance to develop something with their handsOffer a variety of ways for using the toy or objectEncourages dramatic play and pretendingSpark imagination and creativityAllow the child to repeat or expand a process
With good toys in mind, you may also want to get involved and vote for the worst toy for 2012 by Commercial Free Childhood.
The polls close Wednesday, December 5th at midnight so be sure to visit http://commercialfreechildhood.org/TOADY2012 today. And don’t forget to lobby your friends and family to vote for your selection.Since there is nothing children want more than fun interactions with their parents .... Brain Insights Activity Packets make very loving gifts!
Enjoy every moment of the season with your healthy brains!!