Delete…Re-Write…Stuck Brain

So I wrote and re-wrote and re-wrote again this blog. I think I just couldn’t decide what it should really be about. Should it be about brain development like the podcast? Should it be about learning to breathe like Kristi’s last blog? Or should it be about Thanksgiving because that is what happening right now? Nothing came to me. I even contemplated calling Donna and begging for her to take this week for me.

Was this writer’s block? (or is it bloggers block?) I was overwhelmed and stuck. My brain wouldn’t budge. I wondered if that’s what’s it like when kids become overwhelmed with everything that goes on over these next several weeks. Their brain becomes blocked. With all the hustle and bustle and here and there and fast and slow I wondered if their brain becomes so overwhelmed that they to end up wanting to  ‘delete and re-write’ like I did. Not literally writing and deleting but more through their behaviors, actions and words. Maybe there is more crying and clinging? Maybe there is interrupted sleep and more aggression. Whatever it is their brain is overwhelmed and stuck with all of the busy-ness of the adults in their lives.

As we look ahead to the next several weeks I think it becomes important to remember the brain development podcast – we are in charge of growing their brains. Be kind and gentle to their brain. Understand that all of this busy-ness may overwhelm their brain to the point of ‘waving the white flag melt-downs’. Remember to breathe over the next several weeks AND breathe with your children. They are never too young to learn to take a deep breath for relaxation. And finally ponder what the whole holiday season means for you and your family. Share those thoughts out loud with them as you walk through the next several weeks together.

How has your child shown you when their brain is stuck? What have you done to help them get through it?

I’m not deleting and re-writing this one……  🙂

Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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1, 2, 3 B-R-E-A-T-H-E……

As we come into the busy-ness of the holiday season, we asked a special guest blogger (Kristi Cooper) with expertise in stress relieving techniques, to help us share some thoughts with you on how to breathe more through the next couple of months.

I remember being so frustrated at not being able to calm a crying baby that I walked outside and around the house several times before I was calm!  Stress levels rise for parents and children for a variety of reasons.  Children take their cues from parents and when parents’ are feeling out of control, children will sense the stress and respond with clinginess, crying, and other comfort seeking behaviors.  As a young parent, I knew that removing myself and calming down was important.  I just wish I had had a few more self-calming tools in my repertoire at the time!

Now I know that some very simple breathing techniques can lower my heart rate and take the stress down a notch! To calm yourself and a child, start by noticing your heart beat. It is probably racing like your child’s! Now take a deep cleansing breath and pay attention to each inhale and exhale, slowing down each exchange for about 10 breaths.  To help you pay attention you can silently count to 4 on each inhale and count to 6 on each exhale.  This will slow down your breathing and heart rate and bring down your child’s anxiety level at the same time. You can teach your child this technique as well, asking them to imagine their belly as a balloon blowing it up gently on each inhale. On the exhale, they can imagine blowing a cloud across the sky. Pinwheels or blowing bubbles are also good ways for a child to regulate their breath, thus reducing the stress response.

Breathing . . .

Kristi Cooper

Kristi’s expertise in caregiving, mind body skills and nature education inspires her messages about healthy people and environments with parents, professionals, and community leaders.

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Episode 5: Talking to Kids about Natural Disasters

The floods, storms and tornadoes of 2011 are taking their toll on the nation’s children, who may be stressed, worried or frightened about what is happening to them and their families. Learn how to talk to kids about natural disasters in this month’s Science of Parenting radio program podcast.

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Lori Korthals, M.S.

Mother of three. Lover of all things child development related. Fascinated by temperament and brain development. Professional background with families, child care providers, teachers and community service entities.

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The Importance of Play

As summertime approaches, it might be tempting to enroll your child in a variety of events to keep him/her busy while not in school.  While extra curricular activities certainly can benefit your child and be very fun for him/her, too many activities can be overwhelming.  Having a jam packed schedule can leave your child without any free time to just play.  So, with summer quickly approaching, I wanted to remind everyone of a few of the benefits of play.

Creativity. When children are given time for free play, they create play scenarios, imagine a new world, and turn common objects into magical props.  Their creativity and imagination can take them anywhere!

Social development. During free play, children interact with one another in a variety of ways.  They may need to cooperate to help a friend in need, determine who will “play” the pilot and who will “play” the passenger, solve a disagreement, or tend to a crying “baby” doll.  All of these scenarios help them learn how to communicate and cooperate with one another.

Physical development. Especially outside in the summer, free play gives children a chance to develop their gross (running, jumping, throwing) and fine (finger painting, tying shoes, coloring) motor skills.  It also helps to keep them active and healthy!

An escape. Let’s face it, the world is a busy, stressful place.  Whether it’s a big soccer game, a bully at school, a math exam, or troubles at home, life can be stressful and serious for children of all ages.  Play gives them a chance to escape reality, and just have fun being a kid for a while.

Have you noticed a difference in children when they’re overbooked?  How does it affect their energy level?  Their mood?  Their relationships?

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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