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Is Your Baby Crying? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do

Is Your Baby Crying? Here Are 5 Things You Can Do

As a parent, it can be extremely disconcerting when you hear the sound of your baby crying. This is especially true if there is no obvious or apparent motivation for this, as we are often told that unless our child is hungry, tired, or in need of a diaper change there is no need for them to cry. This is a fallacy, however, as crying remains an infant child’s primary method of communication and enables them to convey a specific feeling.

So, rather than ignoring these cries or attempting to decipher the message, the key is to focus on learning more about why babies cry and how to soothe them effectively. With this in mind, here are some practical actions that can help to soothe your baby when they are crying for no apparent reason:

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1. Snuggle and Swaddle your Baby

You may notice that your child spends a considerable amount of time crying in the first few weeks after their birth. This is because newborn babies are accustomed to the warmth and security provided by the womb, and they often crave this as they adjust to their real world surroundings. This is where swaddling can come into play, as by wrapping your child in a carefully folded blanket and snuggling them you can recreate the sensation of being in the womb. According to the Baby Centre, swaddling can reduce crying by up to 28% and effectively sooth them on a regular basis.

2. Engage in Skin-to-Skin Contact

On a similar note, engaging in skin-to-skin contact is an excellent way of both bonding with and comforting your newborn baby. In terms of the former, the quality of time that you spend with your infant child is crucial. Skin-to-skin contact is such a popular concept among parents, as it can be done during times of sleep and relaxation while it helps you to develop a strong, physical bond with your child.

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It is also an excellent method of soothing your child and stopping your baby crying during the first three months of their life, as this helps to replicate the comfort and security that was provided by the womb. This can also be considered as a proactive way of stopping your child from crying, as it helps them to adapt to their new surroundings.

3. Occupy Your Child with a Pacifier

Pacifiers offer another excellent way of soothing a distressed child, especially if they are struggling to sleep or in search of comfort when they are placed into their crib at night. There is also scientific evidence which suggests that sucking on a pacifier can steady an infant’s heart rate, relax their stomach, and even calm flailing limbs. Given that these symptoms can all cause distress to child and disoriented them considerably, a pacifier can have a measurable and positive impact on your baby’s level of comfort.

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There is even research which suggests that the use of a pacifier can decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is because children that suck on a pacifier are reported to be lighter sleepers, which makes them less susceptible to the dreaded disease. In terms of best practice, parents who do not want their children to become attached to a pacifier can simply allow them to clamp down on a finger.

4. Relax Your Child with Music and Rhythm

From birth, your child will have an instinctive appreciation of music and its variable, underlying rhythms. This provides an excellent foundation on which parents can build on, as they look to use music to soothe their child and identify mediums for them to express their creative urges.

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From the perspective of soothing a crying baby, simply singing a lullaby, or rocking your child to the rhythm of a simple melody can be extremely effective measures. The key is to experiment with alternative types of music from birth, prioritising slow and relaxing melodies that have a clearly defined and gentle rhythm. You will quickly be able to identify which melodies help your baby to relax and soothes them into sleep.

5. Soothe Your Child with White Noise

Babies love white noise, and there is a scientific reason to explain this phenomenon. Once again it is connected to the womb, as babies have spent their entire life in this single environment and are accustomed to their surroundings. Given that the womb is known to be deafeningly loud and that life in the real world can be uncomfortably quiet, it therefore stands to reason that infants should be comforted by the volume of white noise.

To use white noise successfully, you will need to play a steady flow of white noise that effectively blocks out other audible sounds. This can then replicate the overwhelming nature of the bodily sounds heard in the womb, providing a soothing and familiar environment that helps your infant make the transition into the real world. You may also need to experiment with different types of white noise to achieve the ideal audio levels, as while appliances can be used there are also specifically created soundtracks that can be purchased and utilised.

Featured photo credit: TaniaVdB / Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Published on May 7, 2021

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

20 Energizing Brain Breaks For Kids

From coaching martial arts to children as young as four years old, I very quickly came to the understanding that if I wanted to help kids progress their skills, I needed to find a way to help them focus more consistently in my class.

There are two key ways I found when it came to improving my students’ level of focus:

  1. Make what we’re doing more interesting. Nothing is off the table here—from having ninja clowns on the rampage in a lesson to including popular games with a martial arts theme, tapping into the student’s love of fun to help them focus.
  2. Introduce brain breaks.

Brain breaks are small mental breaks that help the kids stay more focused. Think of the brain as a fuel gauge that shows the information you can consciously hold in your mind at any given moment. When the kids are focused and working hard on their tasks, the meter is usually full. They can easily concentrate and pass experiences into their long-term memory.

But when the needle starts to drop, you may observe that your kids are feeling anxious or looking restless. New information, experiences, and knowledge are not getting processed from the staging area or working memory into the long-term memory.[1]

It’s here that brain breaks make the most difference, as they allow us to “top-up the tank” or reset the gauge so that we can continue to learn and focus and at a higher level.

If you’ve been home tutoring, you’ll appreciate that brain breaks can help kids in many ways. They can reduce stress and frustration. Think of those times when you’re helping your kids solve a difficult problem. It’s taxing for you both and when compounded with the energy loss after a day at school or watching TV. The stress effect can be compounded, and it’s here that brain breaks can be a lifesaver.[2]

The following is a selection of brain break ideas for kids. You’ll see that some are physical activities while others are more relaxing. It’s always great to test them out to see which ones connect the best with your children.

It’s okay to repeat the same brain breaks. Having a clear name and mission to a break can help keep your child excited, knowing that they’ll have the opportunity to take part in a future round of the activity.

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Active Brain Breaks

Here are some active brain breaks for kids that you can try out.

1. Swapsies

Have the participants stand behind a chair. Call out a character trait, like “everyone with brown eyes.” You then swap places with someone else who has the same characteristic. If you have nothing that matches, you stay put!

Examples: “Everyone with trainers on.” “Everyone who is left-handed.” “Everyone who is wearing yellow.”

2. Dance Party

Put five or six different types of songs on Spotify, including a classic like “baby shark or the hamster dance.” Dim the lights if possible and have the kids dance to the tunes. Then, change the tunes and change the dance style. It’s silly and fun.

3. Freeze Dance

Similar to Dance Party except that when the music stops, students have to stay perfectly still until the music restarts. You can make this even more fun by trying to make the students smile. If they smile, they are out and have to sit down.

4. Keep It Up

Students must keep a balloon from touching the floor. You can add multiple balloons. You can make it more competitive by having different balloons of two different colors and split people into teams. Whoever keeps the balloons up the longest or the team with the most balloons in the air with a timer of 60 seconds wins.

5. Simon Says

This brain break for kids is an old favorite. You can also mix it up with martial arts moves, Fortnite dances, superhero moves, etc.

6. Animal Movement

Move like different animals. It’s fun for younger children. We use Flamingo where you stand on one leg, crawl like a bear, stand like a meerkat, run like a cheetah, and walk like a penguin.

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7. Find It Fast

“Find It Fast” is a scavenger hunt variation. Call an item out in the room and kids have to stand by it. For example, find a clock, find something with a face, find something smelly, find some money, find a phone, etc.

8. The Frog

Physical Challenges can be excellent fun. We have one in the martial arts class called “The Frog” where you squat like a frog, then lean forward so your head and feet are off the floor. These are all old yoga poses, so have a look through a booklet or website for some safe ideas. Other examples are grabbing your nose with your left hand and touching your knee with your right elbow.

9. Pizza Delivery Time

Give the students paper plates and tell them to hold the plates above their head on a flat hand. They then run around the room and try to keep the plate in their hand. You can make it more challenging by having other students try to knock others’ plates off. There’s usually a 3-star jump penalty if your plate touches the floor.

10. Limbo

We use martial arts belts and the students take turns going underneath the belts. Fun music creates an awesome atmosphere here.

11. Human Knot

Split the group of people and have everyone link hands under and over. That’s making knots between everyone in the group. Have the other students try to untangle them and return everyone back into a circle.

12. Feather Balance

This brain break for kids works well with gentle music, and you can use a balloon or a straw if you don’t have a feather handy.

13. Stack them high

The students should have plastic cups and paper squares. The goal is to make a tower as high as possible, or it could be to make a triangle or even a pyramid.

Relaxing Brain Breaks

We talked about brain breaks for kids that are being used to energize the students. But they can also be used to calm and relax them. We’re more familiar with the term mindfulness, but it’s the same idea. These are brain breaks for kids that reduce stress and anxiety.

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14. Meditation

Meditation

is a popular way to reduce anxiety. There are lots of great examples already pre-recorded on YouTube that you can follow along with. Below is a useful classroom meditation example.

15. Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscopes are fun ways to relax. They are mesmerizing and like a peaceful vortex that sucks you into them. Below is a great example of a visual online one you can use.

16. Reading/Listening to a Story

When I surveyed the members of our martial arts club about how their kids employ brain breaks at home, there was a clear winner among the families—listening to a story or reading a story. The feedback was that the process of daydreaming a little helps the kids to recharge. But it goes without saying that the story needs to be engaging.

17. Doodling

My personal favorite way to brain break as a kid was to doodle. Doodling gives your child a few minutes to draw anything they want. It can be calming for them, and it’s a lot more fun if you have different types of pens or crayons available to use. Add some soft music, and you have a simple way to take some time to relax.

18. Coloring Sheets

Coloring sheets are another way to relax the mind. There’s lots of great coloring in pads available, but here are some links to public resources shared on the internet that are great examples.

19. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing

is an epic way to help your child slow down. It is a quick way to relieve anxiety so that they feel more ready for the next task ahead.

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Try this: put your hands on your tummy, breathe in through the nose, and feel your belly expand like a balloon. Hold it here, then slowly breathe out through the mouth while feeling your stomach get smaller. Repeat this 10 times. Use the following counts: breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and breath out for 4 seconds.

20. Going Outside

Go outside was the second most popular response from our parent’s survey about brain breaks for kids at home. Fresh air always feels nice. You can combine this with a treasure hunt, looking for different colored cars, types of birds, or even types of trees, if you’re familiar with these.

My personal favorite is using a mushroom spotting app on our phones and finding a mushroom or toadstool, then using the app to identify its name. This is surprisingly engaging for children. But a few safety rules about not touching them is important. It gives kids a change of scenery and helps revitalize the senses, providing a welcome break from their homework.

How Often Should You Introduce Brain Breaks?

The key to brain breaks is their timing. If you can introduce them before you notice that your kids are entering deep fatigue or their loss of focus has set in. You’ll find a great balance between breaks and effort.

I’ve observed from my martial arts coaching that younger students have a smaller amount of working memory than older kids. My formula is for five minutes of technical training, we provide five minutes of brain breaks for students under seven years old. Plus, we coach to 15 minutes of training to five minutes of brain breaks for children under 12 years.

Final Thoughts

Implementing calming brain breaks for kids is a really efficient way of introducing brain breaks. You have a quick way to allow your students to learn about regulating themselves. Balancing their mind and energy is a useful skill, and you can take this with you everywhere you go.

Our martial arts center revolutionized our approach to coaching by using brain breaks for kids. We found that although we were teaching less technical skills, there was now consistent progress from the students. Plus, everyone was less anxious, happier, and are having more fun. This is a win overall.

If you’ve been having challenges with your kids focusing at home, maybe try a mixture of the calming and active breaks to see which types work best for your kids.

Featured photo credit: Robert Collins via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] SimplyPsychology: Working Memory Model
[2] BrainFacts.org: Kids Need Brain Breaks — And So Do Adults

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