Play and movement are essential for delightful, well-behaved children – all year long. This winter, help your children be the angels you know they can be by planning and sharing more active fun, even indoors; and by balancing the many stressors that arise during the holidays with embodied self-care and regulation tools.
Healthy activity is especially important when days can be full of traveling, shopping, visiting, preparations, socializing and sugar! If kids are often indoors and out of their regular routine, they need your support in blowing off steam and regulating their sensitive nervous systems. Playing with them for even 20-30 minutes will settle them and recharge you. Shared playtime not only shifts stress, it also sets up a bond that means ease around all the mundane stuff, such as chores, manners, eating, sleeping, etc. So, get down on the floor and fly them on your feet, set up an indoor obstacle course, turn up the music and dance, play hide and seek or pop in a Move with Me yoga adventure DVD and follow-along.
Also remember, especially when you are busy and/or rushing, to regularly pause and self-reflect. Name how you are being or feeling. And invite your children to do the same. Are we being crabby, frantic, nasty? Are we tense, frustrated, worried, unsure, tired or discombobulated? What can we do right now to shift our state and be friendlier, more relaxed, more comfortable? Then do that activity – give a hug, sing a song, take a few minutes to stretch, enjoy some slow, deep breaths, or practice an Adventure Skill. Notice how you all feel afterward and acknowledge yourselves for self-caring and regulating so you can be the people you want to be with each other.
Give children the gift of daily, active, creative play during the holidays and every day. It is the best way to lay a foundation for not only their physical fitness, but also their mental and emotional health. Research in the field of neuroscience shows that every time kids move actively and joyfully, they fuel their brain with BDNF and other positive chemical messengers that enhance their mind-body-heart connections.
• Play is the language of children and nature’s biological plan for learning
• Play generates joy which fuels the production of the positive chemical messengers: dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine, neurotransmitters essential for the physiology of growth and development
• Play is multi-sensory, engaging the whole child in body, mind, imagination and heart
• Play inspires creative thinking
• Play puts children in a present, focused, receptive, integrated state
• Regular active play and stimulating physical education enhance academic achievement, fitness and behavior