Ways to Keep the Calm in our Restless Children
In my practice as a Naturopathic physician, I have grown to specialize in weight loss. However, I treat the “whole” person and sometimes that can mean the “whole family.” One common question my HCG Diet patients often ask me about their kids is … “how to help them calm down at night time.” Luckily, I am not the only one who has this problem with their kiddos from time to time.
SPIRITED CHILDREN NEED PLAY AND METHODS TO HARNESS THE ENERGY
Kids are the best. They are beautiful, curious, energetic and of course for us parents … they are our biggest teachers. My oldest son is as joyful and bright as they come. He is a boy with big visions and a very defiant attitude when he wants something! He is one that could stay up until the wee hours of the morning and resists bedtime here and there. He keeps us going non-stop. My younger one is as easy as they come and loves his sleep and quiet time.
This is a common dynamic in many families. We often have to learn to maintain balance with a high energy, full spirited little force running around. It is great to let them be kids and also to learn how to harness the energy!
Here are some gentle ways I have learned to create this calm and balanced energy in my household at bedtime. Hope you find it helpful
Tips to Create CALM and BALANCE Energy
1.Maintain a Diet of “Real,” whole Food
We live in a world where I often see parents caught up in this processed food snack culture. Giving our little ones a whole foods diet with real nutrition will help them grow and thrive. It also sets them up with a healthy relationship to food as they grow. To some children, food comes inside packages and consists of bars, crackers, cookies, etc. In my practice, I have seen many deficiencies in overactive children … especially with minerals.
In my house, I like to be sure my kids get high quality fats, proteins and complex carbs. It truly helps to keep their energy up and stable! Refined carbs will bring the blood sugar up and then inevitably it goes down. I also like to feed my kids food that is organically grown. It is best for the planet and according to a recent article in the Journal of Pediatrics kids exposed to levels of organo-phosphate pesticides that are typically seen in commercial produce are more likely to develop ADHD. Food additives are another substance that can lead to restlessness and ADHD in kiddos. I understand that all of this cannot be avoided all of the time, but it can be a great goal to strive for 75% of the time.
For sensitive kids like my son any form of caffeine needs to be avoided. Their little bodies do not need it and it disrupts sleep patterns. If my son has chocolate in the afternoon he cannot fall asleep.
2. Create a Daily Rhythm!
Probably the most important lesson that I have learned about maintaining a peaceful environment in my home is to create rhythm. Our little people truly thrive when they know what is happening. My spirited son Milo does a lot better when he has firm boundaries to stay within. Children do well when they know what to expect and also what is expected.
I love having a daily rhythm … having meals at certain times, having quiet time, adventure time, play time and a strong bedtime routine is very important. I understand this cannot happen all of the time but it is nice to have some framework to follow “most” of the time.
3. Sleep, Sleep, Sleep:
For most little ones, being tired makes everything worse. Tired kids tend to be cranky kids. In my house, when the kids are not well rested, the days do not flow as smoothly. Some children will naturally need more than others, but in general 10-12 hours per night for children under 12 is a good guideline.
4. Take the Stimulation Level Down:
Research shows that screens and technology are an extreme stimulant to a childs brain. We know that light from screens interferes with melatonin production in the brain. For some kids, this can make going to sleep more of a challenge.
In our house, we limit the screen time to once or twice per week! It is a special treat! On vacation, the kids get a lot more of it! I know this is not realistic for everyone, but it works best for us. I have friends who do no screens at all and some who have a little everyday. Find what works best for your family!
5. Active Kids are Healthy Kids:
Keeping my boys active during the day always ensures that they get tired at bedtime. I like to get them outside for a minimum of an hour per day to run and play. We try different parks, go for rides on bikes, check out playgrounds, dig in the dirt, jump on the trampoline, roller skate, play a good game of tag or “tickle monster”, ski and hike in the woods
6. Using Calming Essential Oils:
My two favorite oils for my kids are blue chamomile, vetiver and lavendar. I find they calm the nervous system before bed. I like to diffuse them in the bedroom while they are in the bathtub. I also like to rub them into the soles of the feet. These work great for me too!
The oils can also be added to a nice epsom salt bath. You can also put a drop or two on the pillow.
7. Go for some Magnesium:
I once had a physiology professor who told me that most all humans are deficient in Magnesium. It is such an essential mineral for relaxation and sleep. Magnesium helps with relaxation of muscles and calming the nerves.
I often add about a cup of epsom salts to my little ones bath and let them soak for 15-20 minutes. They love it. I will also put 1/2 tsp CALM by Natural Vitality in their water before bed. Please not that magnesium can cause loose stool if the dose is too high.