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The Best Ways to Support Your Kid’s Nervous System

posted:

2/12/2024

A regulated central nervous system impacts every action, mood, emotion and process of our children’s (and anyone for that matter) bodies. Here’s the best ways to support your kids nervous system. 

How our sweet littles respond to stress, transitions, newness, sickness or big emotions all goes back to the nervous system. As our children grow, how they will handle the bigger stressors of adulthood is rooted in a balanced and regulated nervous system. 

Nervous system regulation in our children is foundational to wellness and happiness too! 

What’s beautiful about a regulated nervous system is that your child (and thus you) will handle life’s ups and downs, sickness and emotions with more grace and ease. Watching this process unfold and influence every aspect of your days is beautiful. 

Stress is a natural part of life, and not all of it is bad. How our children respond to stress is what we want to focus on. How do we realistically support our children’s nervous system while living in the reality of a modern overstimulated world? Just never having screen time or never eating candy or always having a calm response as a parent isn’t realistic.

Instead of thinking about all the things we can eliminate, what if we thought about the tools we could ADD into our children’s rhythms to nourish their bodies and begin the lifelong process of regulating our nervous system?

As a mom to three littles with my brain and hands full, I often think about how what I am choosing to do right now is going to impact my child in 10 years, or going to impact their children in the next generation. Because the reward of nervous system regulation isn’t always instant, this mindset shift has helped me through the tiresome and pesky moments we all experience in motherhood.

Why regulating as a mom is first priority

Our children feed off our emotions—some days I think they are mirrors into what my heart and body feels but doesn’t express correctly. I know you can remember a moment when you were having an off day and everyone else around you seemed to be irritated and stressed too.

A regulated mom is the first and most important step towards a regulated child. 

All the best plans and supplements in the world won’t be effective until YOU are first regulated. Our children learn to regulate their nervous system through co-regulation—our nervous systems begin to calm down their nervous systems…or hype them up!

How to regulate as a mom? Start here…

How to Navigate Overstimulation as a Mom

Reset Your Nervous System: 30 quick and easy ways for real-life moments

Safe and Sound Protocol with Dr Calhoun and Darby Jackson, have walked through this and love it.

CBD: I love the Balance and Restore Collection—get a jar for you (full spectrum jellies) and a FREE second jar (broad spectrum jellies) for your littles.

Decrease choices to decrease mental overstimulation.

Choices are exhausting. This chronic overstimulation greatly drains our nervous system. Everyday questions and choices are endless: What’s for dinner? What do you want to wear today? What book do you want to read?

Learning to navigate how to make choices is an important part of life, but decreasing options is a great way to decrease stimulation. When you begin to decrease unnecessary mental overstimulation (like choices), your child’s brain will have more capacity for necessary mental stimulation like school, creativity or processing emotions.

Whether it’s decreasing the amount of snacks you offer (or just having one flavor of granola bar rather than 3), having less clothes or rotating toys, this is a big picture process that will begin to calm and regulate the nervous system response. 

Practical tips to decrease choices and mental overstimulation:

  • Lauren Williams, an OT and mama, is the queen toy rotation and gives so many helpful tips!
  • I love having a daily “uniform” each season or even putting clothes that I’m not currently wearing in the back of my closet.
  • Focus on ONE, and make it a good one—one type of jam or granola bar, one pair of tennis shoes, one school coat, one extracurricular activity.
  • Have a meal on certain days that your whole family looks forward to—for us it’s pancakes on Saturday morning and pizza on Sunday night.

Predictability is one of the best way to regulate the nervous system.

Begin to view behavior as a beautiful signal.

No matter the age, young or old, our children’s symptoms are a signal, they are a cry for help. Children are inherently good and beautiful. They aren’t bad. Their frustrations, tantrums, rage, meltdowns, or sleep struggles are a signal something is off, something is out of balance. Our children don’t need a behavioral diagnosis (most often!) or medication to suppress their symptoms or emotions, they need us to play detective.

I get it, it’s easier to tell them to be quiet, to get mad or even yell. Trust me I’ve been there. 🙃 But what if we had a perspective shift and viewed their outbursts, emotions or meltdowns as learning opportunities? What if we viewed our children’s symptoms as an opportunity to help them balance and thrive?

Cry, Cry and Cry.

Crying releases so much—physically it releases stress hormones like cortisol and emotionally it releases trauma, thought patterns and stress. Crying is a way our children process and work through emotions.

Children should cry every day! When our children don’t deal with emotions, or we as adults use language that suppresses their emotions because they seem “silly”, that shifts our nervous system into a chronic stress state and that trauma is stored deep in the body, only to surface or “explode” eventually.

When our children don’t feel safe in their bodies, they can’t heal physically or mentally or begin to regulate. This “stuck” state weakens digestion, immune response and the brain. One easy solution is to let the tears flow—encourage your children to release their emotions. 

Chew gum, ice or a mint.

The rhythmic movement of chewing or sucking helps decrease the activation of our fight-or flight nervous system (stress response) and increases the activation of our parasympathetic nervous system (calming response). Chewing is a sensory input that improves focus, regulates stress hormones and reduces anxious thoughts. As you chew, that sensory input decreases stress from other sources—so noise, stress or stimulation doesn’t seem as intense.

What we always keep on hand or in my purse for in-the-moment regulation…

Repeat, Repeat and Repeat!

How often do we feel like all our best efforts, conversations and carefully chosen words are in vain? All. The. Time. Sometimes as a mom it feels like you are talking to a blank space, where no one is listening. But, deep within, snippets of your words are sticking. They are sinking deep into your child’s subconscious. 

The other day I had a beautiful moment when I was having a rough day and my sweet daughter said, “mama just take some deep breaths, it’s going to be ok.” So, she is listening! Celebrate that victory. Each conversation, each word, each reaction matters in the big picture.

Change your environment or scenery.

Tell me you always feel better when you get out or experience something different? This requires planning and logistics with little kids, but that interruption and change can break the spiral downward. A new environment engages different senses—sights, sounds, textures, smells. That toy your kids were fighting over or argument you seemed to be losing shifts when you change your environment.

With bigger kids or teenagers, you may have an important conversation at a coffee shop or breakfast cafe. Something about food on the table and a new environment that makes people focus and be more receptive to what you are talking about. 

Some of the best conversations I’ve had with my daughter have happened in the car. The distractions and hustle of life fades away and you are in a small space with more focused attention.

Go for a walk. Do jumping jacks in place. Have a dance party. Load your kids up in the car to get a cup of coffee. Make a post office run. Get your kids into a shower or bath, even in the middle of the day. Get outside. Drive a different way home. 

Start a consistent CBD routine.

Taking CBD is one of the best things you can do for your central nervous system as it balances the endocannabinoid system and brings the body into homeostasis. Remember that word from biology class?

There is not a single function in the body that is not impacted by the ECS (endocannabinoid system).

When the ECS is in balance, the body can navigate life, stressors, sickness, emotions, big changes, overstimulation and hormonal shifts with more ease. 

CBD will help your child with:

  • focus
  • process emotions with more rationality
  • pause rather than melting down
  • get deeper restorative sleep
  • handle sickness better

I highly recommend these Broad Spectrum Nano Jellies for kids as they last for 24 hours and absorb 100% in the gut, so you get long lasting benefits and real results. For the most cost savings, get the  Balance and Restore Collection—get a jar for you (full spectrum jellies) and a FREE second jar (broad spectrum jellies) for your littles.

Tools for Children’s Nervous System Regulation

Green Compass Broad Spectrum Nano Jellies

Get the Balance and Restore collection with a jar of BS jellies for your kids and a jar of FS jellies for you (it’s a buy one get one free bundle).

Safe and Sound Protocol

Magic Magnesium

The body’s anti stress mineral. Calms emotions, overstimulation, stressors and helps with sleep.

Rescue Remedy Kids

This homeopathic blend is so calming to the mind and body. It’s great for moments of overwhelm, transitions, before tests or big projects, or when overstimulated

Rescue Stress Pastilles

These are the “candy” version of Rescue Remedy and SO fun and easy to get kids excited about.

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