by Dr. Kim Grengs, Ed.D., Parent Coach
Brain Breaks work for children! Do you know how to use Brain Breaks to calm kids? When children are given Brain Breaks they learn to regulate their bodies and mind. Knowing how and when to take a Brain Break is a lifelong skill that benefits everyone in the family. Brain Breaks help children focus, self-regulate and transition smoothly.
Stages of Development for Brain Breaks
Children develop and mature cognitively at different times in their life. Recognizing this as a parent is important. Young children have a shorter attention span than older children. They are also less able to control their impulses and emotions. Older children often struggle with negative thinking and stress. All children can benefit from learning to use Brain Breaks to experience calm and control. So, if your child cannot sit still, complete a task, or has emotional meltdowns, Brain Breaks will help tremendously. Learning how to use Brain Breaks to calm kids is an easy task.
Simple and Quick Brain Breaks
Brain Breaks can be simple and quick. As a result, children can do many of them throughout the day when needed. They may include physical activities or relaxing quiet activities. Each break usually takes the same amount of time as the age of the child. Your 3 year old can take a three minute Brain Break while your 10 year old will need a 10 minute one. In addition, this time is important to cognitive development for children. Brain Breaks strengthen learning pathways to the brain.
Our brains are not inactive when we take Brain Breaks. Instead they are processing information and making memories. They are cataloging the information that was just received. In fact, taking a break can boost the function of your brain. To learn more about the benefits of Brain Breaks click here.
Why Brain Breaks to calm kids?
Engaging in physical activity using your brain, increases the blood flow and oxygenation in the brain. As a result, this boosts neural connectivity and stimulates nerve cell growth in the hippocampus, the center of the learning and memory. These physical changes are beneficial to your child’s intellectual growth. So it is a win-win for the child and family. Last, but not least, Brain Breaks promote the release of serotonin which helps reduce stress and create calm kids.
Start Trying Brain Breaks
Start by making sure a pen and piece of paper are close by. You will want to observe when, where, and what your child is doing when they have a meltdown, cannot sit still, or are unable to complete a task. Document or write down each time using these three W (when, where, what) words. Document for five to seven days and then look at what you have written down. Once you determine when, where and what introduce some of these Brain Breaks to calm kids.
Easy Brain Breaks
- Take 5– child extends left hand, uses pointer finger on right hand to outline left hand, while doing this, child breathes in and out slowly
- Knee Taps– child walks slowly, lifts knee to waist, taps knee with opposite hand- repeat 10 times
- Bubble Breathing– child sits, closes eyes and imagines holding a bubble wand, breathe in deeply and pretend to blow bubbles, repeat until calm
- Wall Pushups– child stands leaning, with hands on the wall, perform pushup exercises against the wall, repeat 10-15 times
- Doodling– give your child paper, pen, markers, crayons and allow some quiet time exclusively for doodling
Steps to be successful
- Go over each Brain Break with your child during a time when they are already calm.
- Practice each one with your child at least 3 times.
- Give your child a choice of two to choose from.
- Create a schedule for taking Brain Breaks. By planning to use the Brain Breaks before your child gets unsettled, you will avoid the unwanted behaviors.
- Post and share the schedule with your child.
Brain Breaks work for children! When you learn how to use Brain Breaks to calm kids, they learn to regulate their bodies and mind. Brain Breaks help children focus, self-regulate their emotions and transition smoothly. Working together with your child and your child’s teacher will produce benefits for everyone.