“I just don’t understand why my child acts like this!”
Oh to think how many parents have uttered a sentence like this over the years…
Good Kids Gone Bad
There are a million and a half things that influence kids’ behavior and demeanor. As a parent of two and the husband of a kindergarten teacher I understand this totally and without question. However, although it may be true that many things can potentially make good kids go bad, I think 95% of the time we need to focus on the basics because that’s where the problem almost always lies.
Just as in adults, if kids aren’t acting or behaving appropriately, before we get frustrated or look at the influence of alternative obscure things and outside interventions, it is always practical and often advantageous to start with elemental health. When good kids go bad, take a look at these five things: sleep, food, movement, connection and enjoyment. Chances are most of the problem(s) stem from a discordance in one or more of these elements.
The Bare 5 Elements For Bite Sized Humans
First and foremost, sleep has to be a major, if not the top, priority. Kids need sleep. Even more than adults, kids need a lot of sleep, it needs to be of good quality and consistent. If your child has any issues at all, look at their sleep patterns. As a general rule, if kids (particularly younger- under 10) are getting to bed later than 8pm then they are going to sleep too late.
During the school year, when active in both body and brain and particularly after daylight savings time ends, earlier bedtimes are even better. If you are waking your child up in the morning then they need more sleep. Life is hectic sometimes (or all the times for many of us) but it shouldn’t displace the number of hours the little ones get to rest. Sleep should be one of their (and your) top priorities.
Nothing can take a kid from good to bad quicker than food. Any parent who has given their kids junk food or sweets knows this all too well. What we need to remember is that while ice cream and cake will have them bouncing off the walls for a couple of hours what they eat on a regular basis can have a even bigger impact on their overall demeanor. Processed food is one of the biggest detriments to children’s behavior. Real food breeds real kids. Fake food breeds fake kids. A diet filled with sugar, food products, chemicals, colorings, dyes, preservatives and additives in all sorts of unnatural combinations is a nightmare for the little human body and brain. Energy regulation and brain disharmony happen so quick when we eat poorly and kids rely upon us to give them good fuel.
The biggest offenders are processed foods, filled with chemicals, colorings and additives, sugar, refined carbohydrates, vegetable oils and soy products (wheat and dairy products for most kids as well). The less they eat of these and the more they eat real food (fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs, seafood, roots/tubers, nuts and seeds) the better they will be all the way around day in and day out. Good clean food fuels healthy, happy kids.
Kids NEED to move. This is not a new idea. Activity and exercise is an intergral part of the developing body and brain. If kids aren’t allowed to move, expect behavioral problems. The more developed and technological our world and society gets, the more this is becoming a problem. Whether it is limiting or removing physical education in school, more time doing school work, the growing presence and availability of TV/iPads/video games or just forcing our little ones to grow up to fast, kids are moving less every year. This is not good. When kids are antsy, they are telling you they need to move. However, whenever and whatever. Just make sure your little ones get to move every day.
Two parts here: natural and interpersonal. Kids, like the rest of us, are very hardwired to get interaction with the natural world. Without good sun and fresh air exposure and without contact to the earth both on hands and feet kids miss out on a big part of human development. Just letting kids run around barefoot on the grass a bit can go a long way to centering and resetting their behavior. Getting dirty, although often tough for the parents, is a must for every child. There’s a reason they want to get dirty when they go outside, it’s built in to their DNA. Deny them that for too long and you’ll likely see some downstream effects.
Personal connection is also huge for children, this has been well established. They need to connect with other humans in both physical and emotional ways. They need relationships, hugs and kisses, eye contact, hand holds, love, support, empathy and discipline. They also need socialization with others their age to develop well rounded relationships, social skills and boundaries. Kids need to connect with other people. If your child has been lacking in connection with other people, young or old, it often comes out in some form of bad demeanor or negative behavior.
Last but not least, kids need to have fun. We live in a world that almost demands children to grow up too quickly. Whether it’s homework, responsibilities or hectic schedules, kids are often robbed of one of their most precious opportunities: having fun. We all need enjoyment in our life but as we all know, being a kid is about having fun. It’s priority number one. Parents have responsibilities. Kids have fun. Kids cannot be themselves if we don’t allow them plenty of time to have fun and enjoy being young.
The Bare 5 Bottom Line:
If you’re noticing that your kids are a little off, bratty, distracted, antsy, disrespectful, mean or anything else that just doesn’t seem right, look at the basics. How’s their sleep? Have they been eating man made food products and chemicals? Are they getting to move around enough? Are they getting outside and interacting with nature and other people? Are they just plain having fun and enjoying being a kid?
More often than not, the root cause of most good kids gone bad is somewhere in these questions. You might be amazed at how awesome our kids are when we let them fulfill their elemental needs.
Get them back to the Bare 5 and your kids will love you for it.
Thanks for reading, have a great kid friendly day!