We know parenting is the hardest job in the world, and we are here to support you with professional tips and advice.
Here, we’ll cover three key areas – emotional regulation, backpack safety, and sleep quality – that play a significant role in children’s complete health to help you give your child the best start in life.
1. Help Your Child Learn Emotional Regulation
The brain’s prefrontal cortex processes things such as reasoning, logic, problem-solving, planning, memory, focus, stopping impulses, and developing personality.
Since the prefrontal cortex is last to develop, children may lack the skills needed to meet adult expectations. Fortunately, you can help your child improve their emotional regulation while their prefrontal cortex continues to develop.
Building up your child’s resilience and emotional intelligence, helping them healthily navigate their emotions, and teaching them self-regulation are key aspects of children’s health.
If your child is having an emotional meltdown, try the following steps:
- Meet Their Basic Needs – Make sure your child is fed, well-rested, and not overstimulated with loud noises or bright lights.
- Provide Comfort and Support – Pick up your child or help them move to another room (away from a sibling, for example). Let them know you are there for them and offer to cuddle or hug them when they are ready. Avoid trying to fix the problem and make everything better for them as this does not help them learn to regulate their own emotions
- Check-In – Ask your child where they feel the emotion/pain/heat/symptom in their body (typically the stomach or the head). Tell them to take big breaths as if they were blowing up a big balloon or blowing out candles on a cake.
- Pick a Color – Ask your child to picture a colour related to where they’re feeling the symptom in their body. Usually the colour will relate to the Chakra system and help pinpoint the underlying issue (Red = colon / safety, Orange = reproductive system / creativity, Yellow = digestive system / identity, Green = heart / acceptance, Blue = throat / communication, Purple = vision / intuition)
By working through these steps, both you and your child can come to a place of peace and your child can learn more about expressing themselves and getting in tune with their body.
*Please note these are general guidelines.* Use your intuition as a parent to choose when it is appropriate and safe to go through these steps.
2. Help Your Child Sleep Better with a Soothing Deep Massage
From an infant experiencing colic, reflux, or feeding problems to older children facing nightmares, anxiety, or digestive issues, there is no doubt you have struggled to help your child (and yourself) get enough sleep.
So what can you do to soothe your child so they can enjoy calm and restful sleep?
At Open Space, we use a technique called NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) to identify and bring awareness to any underlying issues held inside the body. Part of this technique involves focusing on the role of the nervous system on emotional regulation and sleep patterns.
Autonomic Nervous System 101
Your autonomic nervous system (ANS) controls all of the automatic functions in your body, such as:
The ANS is split into two categories: Sympathetic and Parasympathetic.
The Sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is responsible for the body’s fight or flight response, while the Parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) promotes feelings of relaxation and calmness.
When the SNS takes the lead for too long, it can lead to feeling anxious, tired, on edge, and irritable, leading to a reduction in sleep quality. (Does this sound like your baby or child?)
Alternatively, the PSNS brings a sense of calm and peace to the mind and body by slowing the heart rate, relaxing muscles, and improving circulation. It also signals the body to produce endorphins, the “happy” hormones that help you feel amazing.
Deep pressure massage is one of the best ways to quickly and effectively activate the PSNS. Not only will it bring a sense of wellbeing to your child, but it’s also a fantastic bonding experience for you and your babe.
Additional benefits of deep pressure massage may include:
- General sense of calm that can last up to a few hours after therapy
- Decreased overall anxiety when practised regularly
- Increased happiness
- Improved social interactions
- Increased communicativeness
- Better sleep
- Improved focus
- Lowered hypersensitivity to touch
- Improved ability to tolerate the school environment
- Improved digestion
Child’s Massage Technique for Calming, Soothing Sleep
For best results, perform this massage in a quiet, dark space, ideally before bed and after a bath. Have your child put on some cosy pyjamas and be ready to fall asleep – because they may!
Here are the steps for performing a simple calming massage for your child to help their body and nervous system unwind:
- Have your child decide if they would like to lay on their stomach or their back
- Gently, yet firmly, squeeze their feet and slowly make your way up to the top of their leg, releasing and squeezing as you move
- Complete on both sides
- Start with the hands and move up the arms to their torso, performing this on both sides
- Move your fingers firmly over their torso, crossing over diagonally at their midline
- If your child is still awake, have them turn over to repeat steps 2-4 on their other side
3. Choose the Right Backpack for Your Child To Prevent Back Pain
Approximately 30% of our clients at Open Space are children. Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in the number of items and weight they are expected to carry in their backpacks. This has directly contributed to poor posture, discomfort, dysfunction in their spine, uneven hips, and slouching.
One easy way for parents to help keep their child’s back healthy is to ensure proper backpack fit. Heavy, incorrectly fitted and poorly packed school backpacks can lead to spinal health problems as a child grows.
To choose the right backpack for your child to help prevent back pain when going back to school, consider the following tips:
- Make sure the backpack is the right size for your child, no wider than their chest and below the hollow of their back
- Look for a moulded frame on the back that fits their spine when properly adjusted
- Opt for a bag made from a lightweight material like canvas, with two padded straps
- Choose a backpack with adjustable waist and sternum straps
- Look for a backpack with separate compartments that allow for easy packing and weight distribution
Watch Dr Andy’s video for more info on How to choose the right backpack for your kids to prevent back pain in children:
Additional tips for safe backpack use include:
- Ensure that the weight of the backpack is no more than 10% of your child’s weight when packed
- Pack the heaviest items closest to the spine and make sure all zippers are completely zipped up
- Secure the sternum and waist straps
- Always wear both straps
- Reduce the time spent wearing the backpack to no more than 30 minutes at a time
- Investigate a trolley if that is an option for you
- Ensure your child is undertaking 60 minutes of moderate physical activity every day to help keep their spine strong and healthy
If you’re looking for a backpack that ticks all the boxes above, the Australian Chiropractors Association together with Spartan School Supplies developed the ‘Chiropak’.
This durable, functional and comfortable backpack is designed to reduce the incidence and severity of neck and back pain associated with carrying heavy loads.
Looking for More Information on Children’s Health?
If you feel like you need any additional help on any of these topics or other areas of children’s health, we have a large network of professionals we work with that we can refer you to.
We welcome you to contact us to make an appointment at Open Space Healing for more advice and assistance on keeping your child happy and healthy.