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Kids Hygiene: Top 4 Ways I Was Able to Make it Fun Again

Kids Hygiene: Top 4 Ways I Was Able to Make it Fun Again

Being a parent is full of hilarity. I find myself saying “Really?” and laughing to myself often. Watching them grow into themselves and navigate interactions with their friends and their freedom as they get older is quite entertaining and rewarding.

As my 8-year-old has gotten older, she has a lot of new responsibilities. More homework this year than ever, her chore list has grown and so have her friendships around our home, she is eager to get everything done so she can go play.

With all this new stimulation and activities, hygiene has seemed to take the backburner. She is so eager to move on to the next task that she does not want to spend the time on brushing her teeth or bathing. She would moan when I told her she needed to take a shower before bed and sometimes would stand in front of the sink instead of actually brushing her teeth. That last part was one of those, “really?” moments.

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Asking her multiple times to actually brush her teeth and having a very serious conversation about what constitutes a lie only got so far. She really was not happy about having to take the time to maintain healthy hygiene and I was not happy about having to repeat myself time and time again… so I stopped. I am firm believer that if something is not feeding you, change it – and this routine was feeding neither of us. Finding ways to remind her without me having to ask over and over was key to saving my sanity and both of our time.

The other key, like the most things with kids, is finding ways to make the task less of a chore and more of a game. Here are some of the things that made my life a little bit easier during our family’s morning and evening routines.

1. Lists – Charts

I consider myself a pretty organized individual. I keep a calendar and a “to do” list for pretty much everything so I figured why not take that same concept and make it work for my little one. I found some paper that was decorated with fun colors in my craft space and typed up her daily chores with three sections: morning, after school & before bed. I tacked it on her wall and wah- lah, simple and easy.

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This was so extremely helpful. It created a solid routine for the busiest times of the day. Another great place for visual tools is in the bathroom. Reminders to “brush your teeth” and “wash your hands.” I found some great printables online that look super cute and can be framed and added to the bathroom decor. The bathroom in our house is very much a child’s domain. Bright colors and bath toys aplenty creating a safe, cheerful atmosphere.

2. Toothpaste and Brush

Another reason my daughter disliked brushing her teeth was the toothpaste. She said the mint flavor was “hot.” So we went and chose a new flavor together as well as a new toothbrush.

Letting her make the choice of what toothpaste and toothbrush she would use seemed to give her a better sense of ownership and interest in the whole process. Also now that she had her brand new electric Spider-Man toothbrush she was excited to try it out! Excited! Now we were getting places.

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3. Timer or Song

At first, we used a cute little timer we found at the dollar store. It worked great, set the timer for a few minutes and when you hear the high pitched ‘DING!’ the kiddos know they can rinse and finish getting ready for the day or bedtime. The timer’s loud ding did become a bit obnoxious after a while when my daughter decided it was a noise maker/toy instead.

So if your child is as entertained by the timer as mine was, and it kicks the bucket, try a song. Have your kiddo pick one of their favorite songs, (my daughter really loves Lindsey Sterling so she went with one of her songs) and play it through. Once the song is over they can be done! Most songs are 2-3 minutes which is just the right amount of time to get those teeth cleaned.

4. Books

Kids love to be read to. As they get older and they are learning to read, bedtime is also a great time for them to show off their skills and read to you too. Purchase a few kids books that talk about hygiene and turn them into bedtime stories. My daughter loves story time before bed, and if she gets the added bonus of learning something new that she can take with her to school and tell her friends about she is even more excited. As an added bonus she now reads the books aloud and is proud to show off her newly brushed teeth, washed hair or hands just like whatever character we were reading about that evening.

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These were the most effective ways in which my family was able to tackle the heavy sigh and/or constant need to repeat myself. None of them took much time or effort and the kids have fun with them. Hopefully, these are as fun and helpful for your family as they were for mine.

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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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