Now that it’s fall and there’s less time to spend outside, are you noticing a shift in your child’s behavior? Is she having a harder time falling asleep? Perhaps she’s running around during dinner time? Maybe she’s not listening to directions as well as a month ago?
As winter creeps closer, it becomes too cold to be outside for very long. Perhaps more importantly, your child is in school for more of the day, which requires her body to be still. Consider what needs to be done to maintain your child’s positive behaviors. This includes considering her physical needs and coming up with ways to get them met within your home.
Taking care of our bodies helps maintain positive behavior! Ensuring your small being is using up her physical energy will help maintain the behaviors you want to keep.
Here are my top five tips for keeping small bodies moving:
Take the stairs or walk whenever possible. Does your child’s school have stairs? Do you live in an apartment building with stairs? It might feel strenuous for you to walk up the five flights to your apartment, but your small being will thank you for it. Can your child walk to school instead of taking a stroller or bus? Sometimes the distance is simply too far, but sometimes it is simply about allocating time for the slow stroll your child requires. Building in the time will pay off big time!
Have a dance party at home. It’s simple! Take 10 minutes in the afternoon, turn off all videos, and turn up the music! Take turns picking some great dance tunes and get your bodies moving. You will all feel better after a good dance break. This will not only get your small beings moving, but gives them your attention also. A double win for your family!
Create routines. A solid routine can provide structure and clarity that children crave in order to be successful. Providing some clarity and options around the free time that exists at home can be helpful for children to learn how to occupy their time. Playing alone and coming up with ideas can be tricky, so give them options and choices for open-ended time. For structured time like dinner or bedtime, create a routine that is the same each night. This will allow your child to know what the expectations are and to succeed behaviorally.
Include your small being in your regular exercise routine. If you tend to run, could you do a short run with your child once a week? If you do yoga, could your child join you in a home practice? If you do aerobic videos or classes, can your child join in? Get creative on how to include your child in your physical activity.
Consider the food that is fueling your child’s body. It might be time to reduce sugar and sweets, especially at the end of the day. Provide your child with food that will nourish their body and help relax them, not rev them up. Cooking or ordering fresh veggies and whole foods will help their bodies regulate, digest, and sleep. Behavior can be significantly affected by the food that is consumed.
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Dr. Marcie Beigel is a behavioral therapist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families for more than 15 years and has condensed her observations into her practice and programs. For more on her, visit www.Behav