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How to Bring Yoga Home

This guest blog was written by Erin Haddock.

Yoga was designed to keep the mind focused and relaxed. Of course, relaxing the body is much easier than relaxing the mind directly.  So we work on relaxing the body with yoga poses first, beforeBlog-Yoga-Main-Landscape relaxing through more subtle exercises. When you imagine an advanced yoga practitioner, you might have visions of someone doing a headstand or twisting into a pretzel. In fact, advancement in yoga has nothing to do with the body’s ability to move into poses. Advancement in yoga comes from the ability to maintain the mind’s focus on the present moment, which takes consistency, concentration, and patience. This applies to kids as well. I have seen kids so focused while practicing a simple pose, they are easily more advanced than adults who look around at their neighbors in class.

For this reason, practicing “off the mat” and “on the mat” go hand-in-hand and advance a yogi’s total development. We get precious few hours per week at our favorite yoga classes or in our home practice, but there are many hours each day when we face daily stressors. Creating a consistent “Relax Routine” at home can both deepen your family’s yoga practice on the mat, as well as reinforce yogic principles off the mat. The most useful tip I can give families working to reduce stress, is for the parents to practice too. Kids should get the message that yoga is something even adults enjoy and value as a tool to calm down when stressed.

Here are 3 easy yoga activities parents can incorporate in a family “Relax Routine.” All will promote a sense of well-being while practicing, lead to lowered stress levels after practicing, and will develop self-soothing tools that children can apply on their own.

  1. Mantra Repetition – This mindfulness exercise develops focus and calms the mind.  In our classes we use simple Sanskrit mantras, which mean peace, love and light. You can choose to repeat a Sanskrit mantra, the sound “om”, a relaxing word or phrase (i.e. “love”, “calm”, “home”, “I am peaceful”, etc.), or sing a relaxing song. Repeat the mantra for one or two minutes – or even longer, if you like. Your kids can join in or you can chant to them. Most kids love this practice, since it is similar to singing. This is an important part of yoga, as it is very effective at relaxing the mind. Chanting causes us to take slower, deeper breaths, which triggers the relaxation response. When the breath is relaxed, so is the mind. Kids can be encouraged to mentally repeat their mantra when under stress at home or in school.
  2. Breathing Exercise – Studies have found that regular practice of yogic breathing exercises improves efficiency and balance within the heart and lung system. These exercises teach practitioners what is commonly called “abdominal breathing”. Abdominal breathing has numerous benefits, including inducing the relaxation response, which calms, focuses and quiets the mind. Although we are born breathing like this, sometimes it can feel quite unnatural when first practicing these exercises. Many people are reverse-breathers – meaning their belly moves forward when they exhale, and backward when they inhale – which may cause them to experience more stress. To teach this technique, have your kids lie on their back and place a light weight on their belly (like a book, small bag of rice, etc.). Practice with them, as you breathe in through the nose slowly and deeply, allowing the belly to rise. Then, let the belly gently fall as you slowly breathe out through the nose. Practice for one or two minutes, depending on the age and attention span of your child. After practicing, remove the weight and notice how your breathing has changed. As you start to feel comfortable, you can practice this exercise without a weight. Just bring your attention to the belly as you practice abdominal breathing.
  3. Deep Relaxation – The culminating exercise in a yoga class is deep relaxation, or Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra has been found to produce effects similar to REM sleep, which promotes healing and deep rest.  Yogis say a final relaxation is a must, because it assimilates the benefits of the yoga practices within the body. You can find guided relaxations all over YouTube (we even have a few on our blog), but you can lead a guided relaxation yourself. Yoga Nidra can also be practiced separate from yoga, such as before bed or when your child is feeling stressed. Have everyone lie down and close their eyes. You may use blankets to keep warm or something like a scarf to cover your eyes, if desired. Tell everyone to stretch their toes wider and wider. Then tell them to slowly relax their toes. Instruct them to imagine the relaxation making its way up their body, part by part. You can mention a few key body parts they can relax (i.e. relax your legs, your belly, your eyes). A foot massage is a nice treat to add in while practicing this progressive relaxation. Finally, remain as silent and still as possible, relaxing for a few moments or up to five minutes. After this silence, ask your child to take a deep breath and stretch a little. Slowly make your way back to sitting and end with a final short message, like a mantra, poem, prayer, or simply say “thanks for relaxing with me.”

Developing a Relax Routine as a family can be incredibly rewarding for both kids and parents. Children appreciate the ability to see their parents relaxed and having fun, and parents are amazed at their kids’ focus and engagement.  Not to mention, it can be a powerful bonding experience. Aim to practice your “Relax Routine” at least twice a week. If you can practice once a day, even better!  It doesn’t have to take long. In fact, it is much better to be consistent about a short routine, than practice a long routine only once in awhile. Most importantly, make it work for your family. Yoga is supposed to feel good!

Erin Shanthi Haddock2Erin is E-RYT 200, RYT 500, RCYT with Yoga Alliance.  She completed her 200 hour teacher training with the creator of the Yoga for the Special Child® (YSC) method, Sonia Sumar and has taught the YSC method since 2010.  She is a certified Stress Management Specialist, and also holds certifications in Adaptive Yoga, the YSC method, and Yoga for Teens.

Erin is passionate about bringing yoga to people who experience barriers to their practice – including physical, intellectual, emotional, financial or geographical.  She pursues continuing education in Yoga Therapy at the Integral Yoga Institute in Buckingham, VA and is a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists and Integral Yoga Teachers Association.

At Five Keys Yoga, we provide yoga classes and mindfulness resources just for kids! We are also the Chicago home of the Yoga for the Special Child® method, specializing in teaching yoga to kids with special needs. If you would like to learn more about the YSC method or how your child can deepen their yoga practice, please visit our website.

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Deerfield, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Mequon! If you have any questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140!

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9 Ways to Make Gym Class Successful for a Child with Sensory Processing Disorder

A class full of students in an open gymnasium can make for a very overwhelming experience for a child with sensory processing disorder. Echoing voices, shoes squeaking on the floor, whistles blowing, the smell of sweat and cleaning agents, bright colors and moving objects are enough to increase anyone’s stress level. Blog Sensory Processing Disorder Gym-Class-Main-Landscape

Throw in the demand to attend to instructions, learn new motor skills, and keep up with your more advanced peers. For a child with sensory processing disorder, this could potentially become a recipe for disaster.

Or, with the right structure and supports put in place, this time can be a regular opportunity for fun, growth, and learning!

Below are 9 suggestions to help children with sensory processing disorder feel successful in gym class and participate to the fullest extent possible:

  1. Provide the child with an out. Let him know that if the experience becomes too overwhelming he can let the teacher know he needs a break. The student could sit outside the room for a moment, take a trip to the restroom, or get a drink of water. Sometimes a brief break is all that’s needed.
  2. Be aware of the student’s particular needs and allow accommodations. If a student is over responsive to noise, allow the student to wear noise-reducing headphones. If a student has tactile defensiveness, avoid putting them on teams with jerseys.
  3. Break down new activities as much as possible. Teach one skill at a time and provide multiple modes of instruction.
  4. When providing instruction, ask students to repeat the rules or act out a scenario. It may be helpful to repeat important points and explain why the rule exists in order to be sure they are understood.
  5. Modify games or exercises as necessary. Students will be at different levels and physical activity can present unique challenges for those with sensory processing disorder. Provide simpler options when possible.
  6. Establish space boundaries. Using visual cues for personal space and working in small groups can relieve anxiety for those with tactile defensiveness. Visual cues may also be helpful in showing students where they should position themselves for games and exercises.
  7. Take extra care to maintain a positive environment. Emphasize the importance of sportsmanship and supportive language.
  8. Avoid bringing attention to a skill the child is having difficulty with in front of his peers. When playing games in large groups, it may be best to avoid placing the responsibility of a key position on students who are already experiencing increased stress.
  9. Provide feedback to parents. Let the student’s parents know what skills you are or will be working on so that the child can get in extra practice at home. This can be a big confidence booster for children and allow them to fully master skills with their peers.

Remember to keep it fun! Gym class is not only important for educating students on specific skill sets, it also lays the foundation for their attitudes towards physical activity in the future.

Recognize that not all students with sensory processing disorder will have the same strengths and difficulties. Meeting a student where they’re at and finding their particular strengths to build on is the best way to set them up for success!

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee! If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140.

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Keeping Fitness on Track at School

Your elementary and middle school child spends the majority of his or her week in school– 7-7.5 hours per day, 5 days per week adding up to 35-37.5 hours per week. But don’t forget the average Blog-Fitness-Main-Landscapeof 3 hours per week of homework for kindergarten-8th graders. With long days in school sitting at desks, doing homework, increased time in front of televisions, on cell phones, or in front of computers, now, more than ever, it is important to make sure your child has ways to stay active. With so much time spent in school each week, what better avenue could there be to incorporate fitness in your child’s routine than in school? Physical education classes are a great start, but is there more they could be doing?

Here are Some Options You Can Present to Your PTA for Additional Fitness Programming:

  1. Apex Fun Run

Instead of using the old-school chocolate bar or wrapping paper sales, Apex is a company that utilizes fitness as a means of fund raising. Their goal is to encourage fitness and healthy lifestyles among elementary school-aged children while also helping schools raise money. Apex team members spend 2 weeks at a school teaching a curriculum about healthy lifestyle choices, ways to stay active, and assistance in getting the kids sponsors, culminating in the fun run!

https://www.apexfunrun.com/

  1. NFL Play 60 – School

Play 60 school is a program sponsored by the NFL to encourage 60 minutes of play every day. The NFL has partnered with the National Dairy Counsel, American Heart Association, and Brax Fundraising to create different programs for incorporating fitness in schools. This includes a focus on healthy food choices, implementing activity breaks during daily curriculums, and fundraising by selling various sports team SpiritCups.

http://www.nflrush.com/play60/school

  1. Presidential Fitness Testing

Most schools already implement Presidential Fitness Testing in their regular physical education curriculum. However, if your school does not or if you are interested in more information about the programming, take a look at the website. The Presidential Youth Fitness Programming allows students to individually track their fitness progress and achievements.

https://www.presidentschallenge.org/challenge/pyfp.shtml

Sources:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/02/27/students-spend-more-time-on-homework-but-teachers-say-its-worth-it

https://apexfunrun.com/Home/PlayfForApex

NSPT offers services in Bucktown, Evanston, Highland Park, Lincolnwood, Glenview, Lake Bluff, Des Plaines, Hinsdale and Milwaukee. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates!

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Video Games That Get You Moving

Getting your child off the couch and active can be challenging. With video games and iPads, it can be hard to pry your child away from the screens. But what if the screens can work for you? There are many video games on various systems that get your body moving, heart rate up, and can be a lot of fun!

Here are a few games on different systems that will surely make your child break a sweat while having a great time!Blog-Video-Games-Main-Portrait

  1. Xbox – Kinect Sports

Kinect Sports uses a sensor to track your body movements while playing fun sports games including soccer, volleyball, baseball and more. Unlike other systems that only track your upper body, Kinect Sports also tracks your legs for a full body workout!

If you are looking for more intense activities, try Track and Field. Go for the gold in sprints, hurdles, the long jump, and discus – you’ll feel like you’re in the Olympics!

  1. Wii Sports

Wii Sports uses a wand controller to simulate the real game. This systems features games like baseball, golf, tennis, boxing and bowling. The greatest part: you can play against a friend!

  1. PlayStation Move + Eye

The PlayStation Move is a wand controller that works with the PlayStation Eye camera to track the player’s movements. Because some of the games use both the wand and the Eye, you will be put into the game, literally! The PlayStation Move features games such as soccer, tennis, bowling, golf, dancing, and more.

  1. Just Dance – Xbox 360, Wii and PlayStation

Just Dance is compatible with many systems that use a camera to track your movements. You can dance with three of your friends to today’s top hits and yesterday’s classics. This is my personal favorite to have fun and exercise in a creative way.

Now that you have a list of some awesome, fun games for your home system, it’s time to get active and move your body!

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

fitness goals for kids

Fitness Goals For Elementary Aged Children

Parents often wonder if their children are happy and healthy. While most children will let you know if they are happy or not, determining a child’s health may require some more investigative work. A child’s innate athleticism, or lack thereof, may make a child appear more or less fit than they actually are. Here are some fitness standards pulled from standardized gross motor tests, the Presidential FitnessGram, and endurance norms for 6-12 year old children.

Fitness Standards for Children:Fitness Standards for Elementary Aged Children

6 Year Old

  • Completes 5 sit-ups Independently
  • Completes 8 push-ups with good form, given 1 demonstration
  • Skips forward 10 feet
  • Completes half mile run in 6 minutes

8 Year Old

  • Completes 6 sit-ups Independently
  • Completes 8 push-ups with good form
  • Completes 4 pull-ups
  • Rides a bike 20 feet independently
  • Completes half mile run in 6 minutes

10 Year Old

  • Completes 12 sit-ups Independently
  • Completes 10 push-ups with good form
  • Completes 4 pull-ups
  • Completes mile run in 12 minutes

12 Year Old

  • Completes 18 sit-ups Independently
  • Completes 10 push-ups with good form
  • Completes 4 pull-ups
  • Completes mile run in 9 minutes for boys and 11 minutes for girls

If you feel your child isn’t meeting the above fitness goals, please see the pediatric experts at North Shore Pediatric Therapy for a free physical therapy screening.

north shore pediatric therapy physical therapy

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

yoga for a better bedtime

Yoga For A Better Bedtime

Today’s guest blog by Erin Haddock, owner of Five Keys Yoga, explains how to have a better bedtime with your children using yoga.

During a busy school year, sleep routines become of utmost importance in keeping energy levels and mood balanced in both kids and adults.  Yoga is renowned for its ability to relax the body and the mind.  As a Yoga Therapist, I have seen many people start practicing yoga and improve their sleep.  As yoga is a tool that can benefit both kids and parents alike, it is important that parents practice these exercises with their child.  This builds a relaxing connection and gives the child a yogic role model.

Yoga Moves for a Better Bedtime:

Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is a very popular recommendation, for good reason.  Deep, slow breaths trigger theYoga For A Better Bedtime relaxation response and slow our heart rate.  The mind is connected to the body through the breath, so deep breaths also keep the mind calm and content.  My favorite deep breathing exercise for kids is to have them imagine that there is a balloon inside their body.  When they breathe in, they fill the balloon and when they breathe out, the balloon empties.  After getting comfortable with this image, ask them to slowly fill the balloon in three smaller breaths.  Breath one fills the belly, breath two fills the chest, breath three fills the balloon all the way up, and then slowly let the air out of the balloon.  Repeat this breath at least two times, working up to ten or more repetitions.

Gentle Stretches

Stretching is a great way to release tension that has accumulated in the body over the day and prepare it for sleep.  Certain yoga poses energize the system and others relax it, so it is important to keep a before bed yoga practice slow, to allow the mind to unwind.  Forward bends are particularly helpful, as they stimulate the vagus nerve – a deep nerve that induces the relaxation response through activation of the parasympathetic nervous system.  A simple sequence I like to practice before bed includes:

  1. Reach to the stars: Start by standing with your child, relaxed but tall.  Reach your arms overhead so that your palms face inward, toward one another.  Start by reaching your right arm a little higher than the left, keeping both feet rooted to the floor.  Reach as high as you can for the stars, then relax your right arm, so that both arms are overhead, facing inward again.  Now reach your left arm high to try and touch a star, then relax.  Repeat this once more with each arm and then relax your arms down by your sides.  When your breathing has returned to normal, reach both arms up again.  Try to touch the stars with both arms at once and then reach your arms forward and down, to touch your toes.  It is a good idea to bend your knees slightly, especially if you feel any pain in your back.
  2. Gentle Twist: Sit on the floor with your legs crossed.  You can sit on a blanket or cushion if this is uncomfortable.  Sit up tall but relaxed and breathe in.  As you exhale, bring your left hand to your right knee and your right hand on the floor next to you, as you twist your belly and chest to the right, gently looking right or closing your eyes.  As you breathe in, instruct your child to imagine all the positive things that will happen tomorrow entering his or her body.  As you breathe out, imagine all the less than positive things that happened today leave her or his body.  Breathe like this a few times.  Inhale to bring your body back to center and then repeat on the other side.
  3. Child’s Pose: Child’s pose can be a very soothing pose, allowing us to draw our attention inward.  Kneeling, bring your toes together, as you sit your bum on your heels.  Lean forward and release your torso over your thighs, relaxing your head to the floor and arms down by the side of your body with your palms facing up.  If this feels claustrophobic, move your arms overhead, with your elbows on the floor.  Feel your breath as it moves your back and the sides of your body.
  4. Legs Up the Wall: This pose can be practiced in the sequence above or on its own.  Putting your legs up the wall is very relaxing and feels great!  Make sure that your bum is near enough to the wall, so you feel no strain in your back or legs.  Bending the knees slightly can further relax the body.  You may also try placing a folded blanket or small pillow under your bum and low-back or under your head and neck.  Try to make your body as comfortable as possible.  Focus on slow, deep breaths moving the belly.  Stay here for 30 seconds or longer.  Lie flat on the floor for a few breaths before standing up.

Click here to learn more about Five Keys Yoga.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

yoga and anxiety

Soothing Anxiety with Mindfulness and Yoga

Today’s guest blog by Erin Haddock, owner of Five Keys Yoga, explains how to help your child with anxiety using mindfulness tools.

Everyone knows the feeling – your heart pounds, your stomach flips, and you start getting sweaty.  No one enjoys the feelings of anxiety and it’s even harder to watch your child struggle with them.  But with the right perspective, experiencing anxiety can be an opportunity to meet and rise above a challenge.  Yoga and mindfulness are powerful stress relievers.  Here is a process I enjoy using during anxious moments.

Honor the Anxiety

Like all feelings, anxiety serves an important purpose.  It can alert us to when things are dangerous,Soothing Anxiety With Mindfulness And Yoga when we are pushing past our limits, or if something just doesn’t “feel right”.  Therefore, it’s important to honor your child’s feelings of anxiety as useful information and only then assist her in soothing its unpleasant effects.  Ask your child what she is anxious about and why she is anxious about it.  Get down to the root fear that your child is experiencing.  For example, if your child is nervous to go to school, perhaps she is worried about sitting alone at lunchtime.  She is anxious about sitting alone because she is afraid she won’t have friends. She is worried about not having friends because she is afraid she is unlikable.

Address the “unlikable” part.  Ask her if she really feels that is a true, intrinsic quality she possesses.  Then bolster her self-esteem with some examples of how she is likable: she had lots of friends last year or get along great with her cousins or the neighbor next door is always asking her to play.  Give her as many reasons to feel confident as possible.  Encourage her to think of her own examples.  Then, bring it all home.  What friend-making strategies have worked for her before?  How can she implement those strategies in this situation?

Finally, have your child either draw a picture or write (or both) about her root fear.  Ask her how she feels about her artwork.  Does it represent who she really is?  Next, have her draw or write about the opposite, positive quality and then reflect on it with her.  What would it look like to embody this quality?  How would it feel?  It is very powerful for parents to do this exercise thinking of their own fears, with their child.  This will help the child to realize that anxiety is a normal feeling that we all have to work through.  Post your child’s positive quality artwork where she will see it everyday, such as the bathroom mirror or next to her bed.  Teaching your child to be mindful through difficult emotions is one of the most empowering gifts you can give her.

Deep Breathing Techniques

Now that you have confronted and questioned the anxiety and its root fear, work on releasing the tension that has built up in the body.  Start with five deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.  Now shift so that you are breathing in and out through only the nose.  See if you can lengthen the exhalation by a few seconds, without strain.  Continue for five to ten breaths.  Have your child imagine negative thoughts and the anxiety leaving her body as she exhales and calm feelings and positive thoughts filling her body as she inhales.

With older children, you can also introduce a technique called alternate nostril breathing.  Alternate nostril breathing may balance the “fight or flight” part of the brain with the “rest and digest” part.  It is also a very soothing practice.  To practice alternate nostril breathing, inhale and then gently plug the right nostril and breathe out the left.  Inhale through the left nostril.  Switch, so that the left nostril is plugged and the right is unplugged.  Exhale through the right nostril and then inhale.  Switch nostrils, exhaling through the left, and so on.  The pattern is exhale, inhale, switch.  This can be practiced for upwards of ten minutes, though just a minute or two of alternate nostril breathing can relax the body.  Make sure that throughout the practice, the breath is smooth and slow and your child is not straining.  If this is too difficult, return to the simple deep breathing, as above.

Click here to learn more about Five Keys Yoga.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

too much exercise

The Dangers of Too Much Exercise in Kids

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the United States. According the CDC, 18% of 6-11 year olds and 21% of 12-19 year olds were obese in 2012,[1] with poor nutrition, defunding of physical education and city-wide park programs, and an increase in sedentary lifestyle to blame. It is interesting to ask then, “Can kids exercise too much?”

As with all things, too much of a good thing can be injurious to a person. I will discuss 3 risks of excessive exercise in children: mental health disorders, overuse injuries, and risk of quitting exercise all together.

The Risks of Too Much Exercise in Kids:

  • Compulsive Exercise, also known as obligatory exercise and anorexia athletica,[2] is a compulsion toThe Effects of Too Much Exercise on Kids exercise or practice that outweighs injuries, illnesses, homework, other activities, even friends and family. The exercise or practice no longer brings joy to the child, but they feel compelled to perform, feeling guilt or anxiety when unable to exercise.
  • Overuse injuries in the young athlete is a phenomenon of the 21st Early specialization in sports in children as young as 6 years old has created a culture of overuse injuries (see blog on sport specialization). The American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness recommends 2-3 months off between same sport season and at least 1 day off a week of organized activity. They recommend limiting “sporting activity to a maximum of 5 days per week with at least 1 day off from any organized physical activity. In addition, athletes should have at least 2 to 3 months off per year from their particular sport during which they can let injuries heal, refresh the mind, and work on strength, conditioning, and proprioception in hopes of reducing injury risk.” [3]
  • “Burn-out” from a particular sport, from running, or from exercise all together is a major risk of too much exercise as child, regardless of whether the child is forced into the activity or freely chooses it. The goal of a healthy childhood is to build a foundation for a healthy lifestyle as an adult. When a child exercises too much, they risk burn-out from a couple of areas, specifically, injuries that lead to inability to continue performing preferred activity and inability to rest mind and body sufficiently.

While exercise is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle, it is important to always make sure to monitor the frequency of exercise.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview, Lake Bluff and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Resources:

[1] http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm

[2] http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/compulsive_exercise.html

[3] “Overuse Injuries, Overtraining, and Burnout in Child and Adolescent Athletes.” Brenner, Joel S. Pediatrics, Vol. 119; 1242-1245. 2007.

calm down with yoga

5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down

As a yoga instructor, parent and teacher, I have seen the benefits of yoga for kids time and time again. Yoga is a fantastic way to help all children relax, work out the wiggles and find a sense of calm.  It can be an even more beneficial tool for children with ADHD or other attention or hyperactivity disorders. Read on for 5 at-home, yoga-based activities you can do with your child that will serve as a foundational tool set for self-soothing and positive thinking as your child gets older.

5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down:

  1. Belly Breath-Have your child lie on his back. His palms should be turned up and his feet gently5 Yoga Activities to Help Your Child Calm Down relaxed. Have him close his eyes. Place a small stone on his belly and tell him to see if he can move the stone up and down with his breath. This move inspires immediate relaxation as the breath deepens and teaches the child to use the full lung capacity while breathing. This triggers a relaxation response at any time.
  2. Rocket Ship Breath-Have your child sit cross-legged with his palms pressed together at his heart center (as in the photo).  His hands are his ‘rocketship’. Have him take a big inhale and send his ‘rocketship’ up to the sky. Oh his exhale, have him part his hands and circle his arms back to the ground. Repeat 3-5 times.
  3. Down Dog House-First, have your child practice down dog pose. This is a basic, traditional yoga pose where the body is in the shape of an inverted ‘V’. In down dog, hands and feet stay on the ground while hips lift into the sky. Next, move into down dog pose yourself and have your child crawl in the space created underneath your body. This cozy space created by a loved one is fun, silly and creates a cozy, relaxed space for your child to enjoy.
  4. Cloud Thinking-When your child is bothered by something, have him practice cloud thinking. Have him sit cross-legged, and then have him articulate his troubling thought. Have him imagine that he is putting his troubling thought on a cloud. Then have him blow away the thought by taking big inhales and then exhaling through his mouth to blow the thought away. Once he has blown the thought away with several breaths, have him watch the cloud and negative thought dissipate in space. Let him know his mind is clear now and that he can send his negative thoughts away on the cloud whenever he needs to.
  5. Reframe It-When your child is upset and recounting a frustrating event, have him re-tell the story. Have him explain the ending of the story in a positive way with a focus on what he learned and what can be done better or differently the next time. Let him know that he can always turn a negative into a positive and reframe his thinking.

Click here for more calm down strategies for young children.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

raising a good sport

“Good Game!” Smart Strategies for Raising a Good Sport

“Good game, good game, good game…” The image of teammates lining up at the end of a sporting event to acknowledge one another and give a hand shake is one that is well known to most. Go Hawks! Although the sentiment may not be the same for all players involved at the end of a tough game, it is a ritual that has lived on and is a vital component to being a “good sport”.

Being a good sport may be something that comes easily for some, but others could use a few pointers. As a parent, there are a few things you can do to work with your child in becoming a better sport. In Fred Frankels book, “Friends Forever: How parents can help their kids make and keep good friends,” he outlines some easy steps to helping your child master the art of sportsmanship!

Tips for raising a good sport:

  1. Take the game seriously – when first joining a team or group of friends, it’s important to take the gameStrategies for Raising a Good Sport seriously with the others involved – goofing around could show the kids that you aren’t ready to play by the rules!
  2. Avoid refereeing – instead of arguing about the rules and pointing out mistakes other kids have made, let someone else do it!
  3. Let others have fun, too – If your child is MVP, teach them to let others have a chance to win, too.
  4. Give praise – it’s important to teach (and MODEL) to your child that winning is not the most important thing- it’s having fun! Learning different ways to praise his friends and teammates is vital – things like “good shot”, “nice try” and the ever-popular “good game” are just a few examples!
  5. Suggest a new rule instead of arguing – instead of shouting out when someone does something wrong, suggest that from this point “the white line is out”.
  6. Don’t walk away if you are losing or tired of playing – teaching your child to stay until the end of a round or talking to the teammates about maybe playing something new is important before just walking away!

As a parent, if you are able to watch your child in action at the park or on the field, it can be vital to remind your child of these rules and address them as they are or aren’t happening. If possible, it is ideal to be able to call your child over and talk with them briefly about what you saw and gently remind them with specific examples. Remember, as in learning any new skill, it takes some practice and reminders! Be patient and let the art of sportsmanship live on!

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NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!