Thursday, July 17, 2014

Teaching Kids to Calm Down

Teaching Kids to Calm Down

Teaching kids to calm down is both a science and an art.  When any of us are agitated, upset or anxious, our prefontal cortexes take a hiatus and we're left to deal with just our emotional brain (which, if you haven't noticed, doesn't always exercise the best judgment or make the best decisions).  

It's clear that stress, anxiety, anger issues and other concerns related to self-regulation (the ability to calm ourselves down and find balance) is alive in present in the lives of many of our readers, based upon the huge numbers of you who frequent Creating a Calm Family, Cranky Kid, 6 Steps to a Calm Family and Worry Warriors.

When Kids' Engines are Revved Up 

When kids' (or our) engines are revved up, a chemical chain reaction of sorts takes place, dumping adrenaline, cortisol and other hormones throughout our body. This served our ancestors well when they stared down the face of a sabre-toothed tiger and needed the energy and stamina to escape their predator. However, it's not such a great thing for a kid when they are being asked to complete a math assignment in class or get ready for bed.  What looks like oppositional behavior may actually be stress and anxiety.  But how do we change it?

Getting to CALM

In order to get the prefontal cortex back online, we need to sooth the limbic system (emotional brain).  One of the simplest ways to achieve this is by breathing. I have two quick breathing exercises, one of which can be used anywhere by anyone and it's FREE!  The other one can be used by anyone, too, but it requires bubbles (or you can just pretend you're blowing bubbles).

Balloon Breathing 

When we become stressed, we often breathe very shallow, filling our chests with air.  Deep breathing requires that we fill our bellies with our breath.  We should actually feel our diaphragm expand and contract when we do it right.  For kids, we can tell them to pretend they have a balloon in their belly that is filling with air when they breathe in, and that it deflates when they breathe out.  Demonstrate and practice with them, how to take deep breaths and exhale.  Encourage kids to hold to their hands on their bellies to feel them expand when they are first learning how to do this.  Repeat several times.  There you have it, plain and simple...Balloon Breathing.

Bubble Breathing

This one is great for outdoors or anywhere else you don't mind if a bit of bubble solution spills over, such as a kitchen or bathroom.  For this technique, simply ask kids to inhale deeply (filling their bellies with air) and exhale slowly, blowing the bubbles while they do so.  This will help kids become more conscious and intentional about breathing out slowly.  (It's pretty hard to blow bubbles when you are breathing forcefully out.) When kids become stressed, they can be encouraged to balloon breathe or bubble breathe (with or without the bubbles).  

When/How to Teach These Skills 

Teach kids these skills when they are relaxed and unhurried.  It's of limited use to try to teach such skills when a child is already in overdrive.  The brain is not receptive to new learning at this point.  A relaxed and happy brain learns best.  

Practice, Practice, Practice!

This isn't a one and done technique.  You will need to remind kids and practice these techniques with them several times before it becomes something they naturally do on their own.  Eventually, they will do it on their own.  Isn't it grand?  Teach great coping and self-regulation skills that will last your child her whole life through!

More Resources for Self-Regulation 

Go HERE to learn more!

Looking for more resources for self-regulation? Want them at 40% off?  Check and check!  Our "Summer of Social Skills" Sale is on through the 21st of July.  Four of our popular products are on sale NOW! Check it out HERE!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Creating a Calm Family: 3 Things You Can Do

Creating a Calm Family

Thinking your family needs a revamp when it comes to being calm?  You aren't alone.  Stress is one of the most common presenting issues for people when they show up at their doctor's or therapist's office. No matter where your family is on the chaos continuum, there are some things you can do to get back on track to calm!

Chaos Causers 

There are many factors that combine to determine how a family may be functioning at any given point in time.  In short, many roads may lead to chaos for families.  This list is by no means exhaustive, but it does give you an idea of some of the issues at play when it comes to family stress:

~ Stressors on the family come from many sources
   (environmental, societal, communication patterns, work, personal)
~ Parental temperament
~ Child temperament
~ Coping skills available and known to the family
~ Self-regulation abilities of each family member
~ The resilience of each family member

3 Things You Can Do

There are many things you can do to eliminate some of the causes of stress in your family.  We've addressed this issue in the past, also.  You can see earlier ideas here.

Now, we give you three things that you can start implementing right away:

1. Parents Set the Tone

It's up to us, the people in the big bodies with the big brains, to set the tone in the family.  We create the family climate by how we deal with stress, adversity and the daily grind.  Our attitudes towards life and the daily struggles we all face has huge impact on how our kids will react and respond, in turn.  They are always watching us for cues about how to handle things.  Stressors will always be present in our lives.  We need to find the ways to tackle them and lessen the impact they have on our lives.  If your stress level seems insurmountable, learn some new skills by seeing a therapist, hiring a life coach or reading books specifically made to help with such concerns.  We are never too old to learn how to better deal with the sticky situations in life.

2. Teach Confidence Through Life and Social Skills

Conflict and challenges are inevitable.  We cannot protect our kids from these things, nor should we. Giving kids life skills to combat conflict, disappointment, fear and uncertainty will go a long ways towards giving them an advantage across their lifespan.  The ability to handle life's frustrations is a confidence-builder.  It equips kids with a can-do attitude.  It allows them to enjoy life more! Solid social skills are crucial to our success, and contribute to our academic pursuits, as well.  Kidlutions has several resources available for use in homes, classrooms and therapy/counseling offices.

3. Teach Self-Regulation Skills

Once we get our own heads in order, and feel armed with effective ways to deal with our own stress, we are much more able to help our kids get to calm. Emotions can be messy.  If you find yourself regularly dealing with frustrated, irritable, overly-sensitive kids, it's time to double-up on teaching calming skills. We've tons of ideas curated on our parenting, play therapy and feelings boards over on Pinterest.  Swing by and peruse anytime! Cranky kid? You can also check out our post about reflexology (an old fashioned foot rub for kids) HERE.

A Good Start

These three ideas will get you off to a really good start when it comes to creating a calm family.  What else would you add?


Speaking of Helping Kids with Social Skills,
Don't Miss our BIG
Summer of Social Skills Sale
It runs through 7.21.14 @ 10 pm EDT.

Get details HERE!

Summer of Social Skills Sale

This sale has ended.  Be sure to sign-up for our newsletter, so you never miss a sale, great deal or new information and freebies!  Hope to see you there! You'll get more than a dozen free printables for social-emotional development when you join! Go HERE to join!
Summer is a GREAT time to teach social skills.  With the relaxed pace, and plenty of time for repetition, summer social skill teaching makes great sense.  In celebration of summer, (and our most recent, beach-themed post about creating a calm family) and in an effort to help as many parents and clinicians teach social skills as possible, we are hosting a "Summer of Social Skills" sale, with up to 40% off some of our most popular products.

Kids for Kindness  Now $7.79 (Price not changed on page, but price will be reflected in cart!)

Click through each link to learn more about the individual products.  The prices have already been adjusted. When you add an item to your cart, you will see the discounted price.  If you have any problems at all, just contact me at compcounseling at sbcglobal dot net.  I'll be in touch within 24 hours, usually much sooner!

Make it a great summer!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Cranky Kid? Try a Foot Rub! Reflexology for All

Cranky Kid? Try a Foot Rub! 

Most cranky, stressed out kids respond well to physical touch.  A foot massage, following the map above for "relax" and "nerves" can work wonders and really set the tone for a better day.  Try it and see! Better yet, why not start and end the day with a quick, five-minute foot rub to help your kids get off to a great start or end the day on a relaxing note.  It may just become a favorite childhood memory for your kids! (Hint: This works for teens and spouses, too!)

How Will I Find the Time?

Don't think you have time for it?  Remember, an ounce of prevention! Yep! Think about how much time you spend intervening, guiding and dealing with crankiness, bad attitudes and frustrated kids.  All kids experience it from time to time, intense kids even more so.  Be proactive.

Human Touch Changes Brains

A little bit of gentle human touch does wonders for our health.  It changes our biochemistry, and improves our immune system.  Happy brains make for happy people.  Read more about these benefits HERE. Just five minutes can make a huge difference! Set a timer and when it dings, the foot rub is done! Easy peasy lemon squeezie!

Printable Foot Map

While you can find several reflexology maps online, the one we used in our image is designed by Posh.  You can download the PDF to print, directly from Posh.

Reflexology to Reduce Stress

It's been talked about far and wide, including on the Dr. Oz show. The ancient Chinese practice of reflexology has been around for thousands of years. The concept of stimulating pressure points in various locations of the body to relieve stress and/or to stimulate the body's natural healing process has been used through the ages.  If you've ever enjoyed a foot massage, you know the benefits!

Kick It Up a Notch 

You can do a foot rub with no other supplies other than your two hands. Or, you can make your foot massage more enjoyable by adding in any number of Posh's high-quality products:


Just Plain Posh

Call Me Candy

Olive You

The Healer Stick:

The Healer is hands (and feet) down my favorite Posh product.  It was the first Posh product invented and it is sublime.  So versatile, you'll want a few around the house, one in your purse and one at your office desk.  It's just that fab!

The Sleepy Sleep Stick:

A great one for bedtime! The Sleepy Sleep Stick is another fave at the Kidlutions household.

Things to Love About Posh

Natural Based Products:

No Animal Testing
No Petroleum
No Paraben
No Paraffin
No Sulfates/SLS
No Gluten or Soy Fillers
Natural Based Ingredients
High Quality Essential Oils

You can read more about why Kidlutions is all Posh'd up HERE.

So do your kids and spouse!
Pampering makes us all
feel better!
This post contains links to Posh, for which Kidlutions is an Independent Consultant.  
Purchases made through these links will benefit Kidlutions and allow them to continue 
to keep posting free content and creating helpful resources for teachers and educators.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Active Summer Play

Brains and Bodies Work Together

Most early childhood educators recognize and understand that our brains and bodies work together for optimal learning.  Teachers at every level are aware that kids can lose up to two months worth of learning over the summer.  This makes it hard to play catch-up when the first school-bell rings in the fall. See how to keep your kids far from the "summer slide" here.

How Parents Can Help

Summer provides a great opportunity for parents to help prevent that two month learning loss that occurs during the long school break.  The way to do it, though, might not be the way many parents might think.  Flashcards and workbooks aren't necessarily the best way to do it.  Keeping your kids moving, might. 

Summer Fun Keeps Dendrites Growing!

When your child is engaged in active play, more than her muscles are getting a workout.  Areas of the brain are activated that are crucial to learning.  I once saw a saying that goes, "Sit and get does not grow dendrites!"  Movement is absolutely essential to learning. 

Movement Activities that are More than Fun!

The list is endless when it comes to the kinds of active play to keep your kids' bodies and minds engaged over the summer.





Duck Duck, Goose

Red Rover

Simon Says

A Moving Child is a Learning Child

You absolutely will NOT want to miss the blog, Moving Smart by Gill Connell. The blog has many movement ideas for early childhood learning.  See more about Gill's book, A Moving Child is a Learning Child.

Go HERE to learn more!

For more information about the importance of movement during early childhood, 
you can also check out SparkPE.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5 Ways to Play Tag

Tag, You're It! Five Ways to Play Tag

Who doesn’t fondly remember playing tag as a kid?  This old-school favorite can be played in a multitude of ways.  In fact, the number of ways you can play is only limited by your imagination.  

Here, we share five ways to play the game.

  1. Flashlight Tag: Fun after the sun goes down! The person who is “it” is armed with a flashlight, which must remain on.  A person is considered tagged when they are identified by name by “it”.  The tagged person then becomes “it” and a new round begins.
  2. The Blob: One person starts out as “it”. As he or she tags others, they join hands and work together, adding more players to the “blob”, until everyone is tagged.
  3. Animal Tag: Everyone, including “it” act as if they are a predetermined animal during game play. “It” gets to choose the animal; rabbit, lion, dog, ape, etc. When “it” tags someone, that person becomes the new “it” and calls out the animal to imitate.
  4. Numbers Tag: Why not sneak in a little learning with the fun?  When “it” tags someone, the "tagee" will give “it” a math problem to solve.  Decide ahead of time if addition, subtraction or division will be used.  If “it” does not get the right answer, he or she must continue to tag others until they get the right answer.  Looking for more ways to help kids learn math?  Look no further than Dr. Lynne Kenney's Play Math. If your child struggles with math, don't miss it!
  5. Compliment Tag: Sneak in a little social skill building with the festivities.  When “it” tags someone, they must give him or her a genuine compliment.  The tagged person then becomes “it” and the game proceeds. This version is fun for all kids, but can be particularly helpful for kids with ASD. To carry through with more intentional teaching of compliments, try our resource, The Compliment Games.
Find it HERE!

What ways do your kids play tag?  Let us know in the comments below! We'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The 5 Great Things About Intense Kids

Intense Kids

Congratulations! If you are reading this, chances are you parent an intense child, teach an intense child or work with an intense child (or maybe all of the above).  While it may be easy to focus on some of the downsides of an intense temperament, it's equally important to pay attention to the upside of intensity. And there is one.

In fact, we've pulled together five examples here:

1. No holding back. They express their feelings without holding back.  It's hard to imagine these kids ever developing ulcers.  If they are anxious or worried about something, they will let you know.  If they are mad, you won't be left in the dark.  If they are disappointed, you as well as the neighbor two doors down will hear about it. (Note: Anxiety can manifest as anger, agitation and more.  Pay close attention to times during which your child becomes overly emotional.  It may be their "normal", or it may be anxiety.  Be sure to seek the input from a qualified and licensed behavioral health provider, if you suspect your child has anxiety.  Like most concerns, the earlier it is treated, the better. Ask your family doctor for a referral.)

2.  No questions. You always know where you stand with intense kids.  If they are upset with something you did or said, you will hear about it.  There is no question.

3.  Sensitivity. They often have a sensitivity for things that others do not.  They experience emotions with such ferocity, it is hard for those of us who do not share in their zest for life to sometimes understand. Help kids learn to embrace this sensitivity, without letting it control them.  This can absolutely be done. Arming kids with the skills to manage anger and disappointment can go a long way.

4.  It Goes Both Ways. To the degree that they express intense discomfort and disappointment, they give equal measure to the more upbeat feelings of joy and excitement.  I like to think about these kids as "living large".  If you love listening to the rafter-shaking whoops of an intense, laughing kid, remember the flip-side of that is equal intensity when things go south. It really can help you, as a parent or care provider to keep this in mind during challenging times.

5.  They have the capacity for greatness. Every human being has this capacity, I'm a firm believer.  Intense kids, even more so.  They have so much energy, they need help learning how to channel it.  Once they can do so, they will soar.

What do you see as the upside of having an intense kid? We'd love to hear about it! Share in the comments below!

More resources for intense kids:

Intense Kids and Sportsmanship

When Children Scream and Yell

The Care and Keeping of an Angry Child

The Making of a Mother (especially for mothers of intense kids)

The Compliment Games

Giving Compliments

Giving a compliment is an important social skill and is something that doesn't come naturally to most kids.  It's also something we don't often think about intentionally teaching to kids.  

Instructing kids to how to give a genuine compliment is one part of helping them build a skill-set that will serve them in social situations.  This is important for ALL kids, but is even more urgent with some special needs populations.   Feeling stumped about how to go about it?  Want a fun way to teach this skill? Look no further than "The Compliment Games", a resource that is part of our Social Emotional Skill Builder Series.

Target Age Range: This resource has been developed for children old enough to read and write. You can adapt this for use in the younger years. Rather than providing students with the workbook pages, use the prompts on the pages for discussions during circle time!

What's Inside 

This resource features:

20 pages of support to help you easily teach this important social skill

A brief description of why giving compliments is crucial

An Easy 4-Step Process to Teaching this Skill (We break it down

A Quick and Easy Game to Teach Compliments (Play Anywhere...really!)


An 8-page Workbook to Copy and Give to Group Members or Students

A 21-Day Compliment Challenge, with instructions

A "Champion Compliment Giver" Certificate

All the Work is Done for You! 

Whether you are a teacher, counselor or youth leader, you'll use this resource again and again.  We think you're going to love it!


Add to Cart

Thanks for everything you do to promote social-emotional skills!

Monday, June 23, 2014

A Day at the Beach: Family Safety

A Day at the Beach: Family Safety

It's officially summer now!  That means lots of time at the beach, sitting poolside and engaging in other activities that involve being outdoors and around water.  These activities require a little extra planning, as well as a little extra caution.  We've gathered up some tips about water and sun safety, to keep you and your family happy and healthy all summer long.

The following tip sheets about water safety are from the Red Cross:

Home Pool Safety

For another spin on water safety, try this from the Centers for Disease Control:

Pool and Hot Tub Safety

Hot Tub Safety for Kids by Global Children's Fund

Sun Safety

Be Safe in the Sun from the American Cancer Society

Sun Safety: Save Your Skin U.S. Food and Drug Association

Sun Safety Kids Health

Safety Products We Love

Keeping kids safe is job number one for parents. Following are some of our favorite picks!

Life jackets are imperative when you are around water with youngsters.  Be sure to always check the weight limit.  If boating, be sure to get the proper type approved safety gear. This Swimways Life Jacket has a fun fin on the back that doubles as a swimming aid.

This fun little book will help kids understand and participate in skin safety precautions while in the sun.  Who knew? Max and Mila at the Beach

Big enough for the whole family! 82 wide x 50 deep and has 45 SPF in the tent material. Closes entirely for privacy for changing, if needed.  That’s a great bonus! You'll be happy to have this on a scorching hot or windy day at the beach. A great value.

This 100% certified natural, 94% certified organic sunscreen will protect the skin of all the "littles" in your life.  Be sure to follow package directions and reapply as indicated.

Keep biting horse flies and mosquitoes at bay!  Those can run a day at the beach.  No longer, with Badger Natural Bug Balm.   

Be safe out there!

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