Wednesday, February 27, 2013

100 Thank Yous

Do you ever feel that too much of your day is spent telling your children what to do and what NOT to do?  Do you find yourself saying,

No, put that shoe on the other foot.
Go blow your nose.
Did you wash your hands?
Don't run.
Hurry up.
Slow down.
Don't talk like that to your sister.
Be nice and share.
Button your shirt.
Comb your hair.
Don't pull the cat's tail.
You didn't finish cleaning your room.
Wipe your feet.
Pick up your clothes.
and on, and on, and on.......?

Would you prefer that your child think more independently and make good choices for him or herself?  Nancy Rowe, founder of NeuroNet Learning, has recently created a very short FREE e-book with a simple system of "catching" children doing well and reinforcing behavior with a simple touch, eye contact and a specific thank you.  The book comes with printable one month chart to help parents develop a new pattern of behavior as they are teaching their children new behavioral patterns.
I have recently started asking parents to add this supplement to their NeuroNet program (although any parent can use this with our without NeuroNet).  Here is feedback I received from a parent:

Just since Thurs. evening, I have been working this Thank You thing. Amazing. Boys are nicer to each other. They are more willing to serve the household. They are looking for ways to get more praise! THANK YOU!!!!!   And, you have no idea how the sibling issues and rude comments had escalated the past few months. I was at my wit's end trying to come up with something to get a change.
This is so EASY and WORKS! Just in 2 days!!!!!!!  (mother of WB)
You can download the free e-book, 100 Thank Yous, here.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Healing with Hugs

 "Monkey hugs" are frequently assigned to ILC students and their parents as well as other "exercises" which involve touch.  Healthy touch plays a significant role in calming a child's nervous system.  If a child or his parents are uncomfortable with hugging, it is very important to set a goal of developing this relationship skill.  The following is an excerpt from a lecture by Dr. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine:

A normal steady diet of healthy touch is critical for healthy development.  We know this from extreme examples in nature, like orphans institutionalized in Romania who gained half their expected weight and height because they were touch deprived.  Then there are examples from cross-cultural literature, like studies we've done in Paris and Miami, which compared the amount of touch kids normally get on playgrounds and in schools.  We found that kids in Paris were getting significantly more physical affection than kids in the U.S., and that the French kids in turn were significantly less aggressive than the kids in the U.S.  Research with monkeys also shows a relationship between aggression and touch deprivation.
We've done more than one hundred studies over the years with kids with different medical and psychiatric conditions.  Results show that not only can we shift behaviors in a positive directions through healthy touch, but that the underlying biochemistry improves as well.  This applies to kids who have asthma, autism, cancer, diabetes, dermatitis, autoimmune conditions, immune conditions, pain syndromes, depression, and attention disorders - all can benefit.

Our studies show that most children are just not getting an adequate amount of touch during the day.  They need hugs and carrying around and kisses and pats on the back.  It would be very healthy if a child got a normal dose of touch, plus a massage a day.
A massage can be a very relaxing bedtime ritual.  The most beneficial and relaxing type of massage uses deep pressure.  You can try a foot or hand massage with lotion or coconut oil; or a back rub.  Get your child to give you feedback about the pressure.  If s/he is over-sensitive to touch or feels ticklish when touched, try very firm pressure and try to find an area that is not ticklish.  (Tickling is not calming.)

Another way to get deep pressure touch is by hugging.  Dr Field says this about hugs:
When you get a loving and firm hug, it stimulates pressure receptors under the skin, which in turn send a message to the vagus nerve in your brain.  The vagus nerve takes this cue to slow down your heart rate and your blood pressure, putting you in a relaxed state.  The hug even curbs stress hormones such as cortisol, facilitates food absorption and the digestion process, and stimulates the release of serotonin which counteracts pain.

(italicized quotes are from The Connected Child by Purvis, Cross, and Sunshine 2007)

So now you see how powerful a silly "Monkey Hug" can be.  Your child's nervous system will benefit and yours will too!  

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What's for Breakfast?

Starting the day with a breakfast designed to release glucose slowly into the blood stream can often go a long way toward improving alertness and concentration throughout the day.  Unfortunately, our children’s modern breakfast foods often include large amounts of processed (simple) carbohydrates (sugar, enriched flour, white flour) and not much protein and good fats.  Simple carbohydrates quickly elevate blood sugar levels causing a temporary “feel good” response which is followed shortly by a crash, as all the energy (glucose) is drained from the brain.  This crash often results in mid-morning lack of concentration, mood swings, and carbohydrate cravings.  The craving is a response to low blood sugar, but if the glucose levels are again spiked by a mid-morning sweet snack the result can be a vicious cycle of ups and downs.  This short youtube video provides an easy to understand and humorous explanation of how this cycle of blood sugar "highs" and lows effects our bodies.

While a sufficient amount of protein is essential throughout the day, it is particularly important after our bodies have fasted throughout the night making us especially susceptible to glucose spikes.   In order to provide the brain with a steady supply of energy, breakfast can include a protein combined with a complex carbohydrate (whole grains, legumes, vegetables).  Complex carbohydrates releases glucose slowly and protein allows the brain to use it for energy. Protein can not be adequately utilized without dietary fats, which is why protein and fats are naturally found together in eggs, milk, fish, and meat. Some healthy fats that can be included with breakfast are butter, coconut oil, olive oil and fats from grassfed animals.