Children and energy management

I’m no expert on children and certainly not a child psychologist, despite having studied it for a portion of my degree. However, I have three of my own children and many friends, and clients who face the challenges of kids’ energy frequently.

In a recent workshop I was asked “Can all these tools for sustainable energy be used with kids?”

The short answer is “Of course!”

The longer answer is…

The primary tools we support adults to use are based on mindset (mental), the body and breath (physical) and planning and structure (neural). Largely, none of these things impact our development in a negative way and all are in fact excellent tools for life. In my personal experience, we can use a great deal of these tools to support our children as they grow and navigate a complicated and every increasingly fast-paced world.

Kids are quite amazing and absorb concepts much faster than adults in most cases. They are designed to be complete sponges up to age 7 then they are continuously working to apply the learnings that they have acquired from there. You only have to drop a concept to them once as long as they are in a great space for learning. This great space? Just as adults, they are best geared up for absorbing new ideas when they are calm, and their prefrontal cortex (PFC) is in its optimal state. It is never a good time when they are angry, frustrated, feeling overwhelmed or threatened in any way.

So, what concepts are great and easy ones to share with children to support them to be sustainable?

  1. Rest and recovery. When given the space and opportunity, kids are great at finding quiet when they need it. This can be encouraged even more by creating environments (and giving them time) to do so. Often parents pack schedules too full in pursuit of ensuring they have every experience possible. Learning the importance of rest at a young age is a hugely important life skill.
  2. Breath. Bedtime is a wonderful time to learn how to breath slowly and consciously. It provides an opportunity to show kids how quickly they can manage their own energy when they focus on longer exhales. You can also bring breath techniques in when kids are facing frustrations during their day – perhaps at school. My own children now have a meditation practice that has been implemented by their school, starting every day with “straight backs, soft bellies” to support them to be present and conscious as they move through their days.
  3. Mindset. Breath helps with mindset. It can allow kids to slow down just enough to realise they can choose how they see things. Gratitude or just acknowledging of great things in their day or life also helps children to see where the opportunity to be positive lies. The more they see positive things in their life, the more likely they are to choose those perspectives.
  4. Structure. Put simply, kids love structure too. The more they know and understand the format of their days, the more they can thrive within those guidelines. They get confident with what they can expect and begin to know their own boundaries through this. Helping kids identify their own pace can support them to learn how they can tailor an environment or structure to work well for them. The structure, of course, must be flexible enough for the child find their way too.

One of the greatest tools at our disposal to work with children is the tool of open conversation. Sharing what you are learning and experiencing in a genuine and open way allows kids to see that you can learn new things and change, even as an adult. It sets an example for growth, for introspection and for being challenged … not always having it “right”. Kids who learn this early on are more likely to carry a growth mindset as they grow and develop, setting them up for a lifetime of opportunities and development.

Let us know if you’d like a free 15 minute call to hear about how these and other neuroscience based approaches can help you in all facets of your life.