Inside is a guest post from Dayna of Lemon Lime Adventures on 5 simple ways to calm your hyper kids.
Kids jumping from the couch to the chairs. Pillows flying, laughter, kicks, screams of joy. It’s like a scene from a sitcom, only it’s happening in my living room.
“Guys, the couch is not for jumping. Let’s take it to the trampoline,” I so calmly and kindly interject.
Five seconds later, I hear grunting, bangs, and booms in the basement. My 12-year-old and 10-year-old are wrestling and knocking things down all around them.
Again, I interject. “Boys, settle down.” They disperse, but only for a moment.
Now they’ve taken to a full-on Grand Prix race in the house, running through the kitchen, the living room, the dining room, up the stairs, down the stairs, around the halls.
“All right guys, that’s enough. Outside now!”
I can be a pretty patient mom. In fact, I’m working really hard on it. But sometimes I just need my kids to settle down.
For a long time, when my kids would get so riled up, so much so that the house felt like it was shaking on its sides like one of those bouncy houses at the fair, my go-to phrase was, “Take it outside.” I know the importance of play and getting kids into the fresh air, and getting it out of my house when they are running around like crazy. Okay, that last part, is really just for my sanity.
Let’s be real honest. Telling kids to go outside and sending them to go play and romp in the fresh air doesn’t always work. Sometimes, you’re in the middle of a grocery store, you can’t really send them outside while you’re walking down the aisle and they start to wrestle. If you are at your sister’s wedding sitting on the pew and suddenly your kids start to crawl on the ground, you can’t really give them the nod and say, “Go ahead, go run outside.”
As much as I know kids need to move, and wiggle, and get out in the fresh air, there are times that they need to settle down. In those instances, we need a quick strategy that will both give the kids exactly what they’re needing and settle their little hinnies down, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes.
Before I tell you this super, quick tip, I want to let you in on a little secret that I learned about a couple of years ago, that has literally changed my life.
When my oldest was seven, he could never sit still. He didn’t have a slow speed, he ran everywhere he went. Going to family events was a nightmare because he was on level 10 the entire time, until I learned about proprioceptive input.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Whoa, whoa, what in the world did she just say? Proprio what?” Don’t worry, I did the exact same thing when I first heard it. The proprioceptive system is one of the most important sensory systems in our body. Much like you, I’m sure, when I was growing up, I was taught there were only five senses. Boy, were we wrong.
The proprioceptive system is responsible for taking information from our joints and muscles, and sending those messages to our brains. It tells our brain information about our body position, movement, force, direction of our movements, and helps us instinctively know how much pressure or force we should use when doing different activities throughout our day.
So, what does the proprioceptive system have to do with your kids running around like banshees? You see, a healthy proprioceptive system allows children to move and play, and interact with their world in a smooth and coordinated way. Not too gentle, not too rough.
When children need more proprioceptive input, you might notice some of the scenes like I described above.
- Your kids are suddenly too rough,
- Being overly aggressive,
- Rarely walking,
- Always jumping or running wherever they go,
- Difficulty sitting still or upright at the table or in a seated position,
- Constantly leaning on walls, furniture, or people to hold themselves up, and
- Being too destructive with their toys.
If you see these things in your children, it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with your child. It could just be a sign that your child is under or over responsive to the proprioceptive input around them.
All those big words aside, really what this means is, when your kids are running around your house like crazy, jumping on the furniture and roughhousing in the basement, there is a quick and easy fix.
That’s proprioceptive input.
While it sounds super crazy, and a little scary, it’s not. It’s actually super easy. In fact, here are five simple ways to give your kids proprioceptive input so you can settle them down when they are roughhousing.
5 Simple Ways to Give Your Kids Proprioceptive Input So You Can Settle Them Down
We all know the game of Simon Says. Simon says, “Put your finger on your nose. Now, touch your head. Oh, Simon didn’t say …” What many of don’t realize, is that when were playing a game of Simon Says, we’re putting our proprioceptive system to work. You’re settling your child’s mind, making them mindful and focus on where their body parts are.
It’s hard to run around the room and jump on the furniture while trying to close one eye, touch your nose, and rub your belly all at the same time.
When I first learned about proprioceptive input, animal walks was one of the very first things I ever tried with my son. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were at grandma’s and he was running back and forth, from the kitchen to the living room. Kitchen to the living room, and only stopping when he ran into somebody.
That’s when I remember reading about proprioceptive input and these things called animal walks.
By having my son get down on the floor and walk like a crab, I was giving his joints and muscles the input it needed. It was like magic. We walked like a bear, we walked like a crab, we jumped like a kangaroo, and I will never forget my mother-in-law’s face when my son magically got up from his animal walks, looked at me, gave me a hug, and calmly walked into the other room and started playing with his cousins.
She looked at me bewildered, “What in the world just happened?” This proud momma just looked right back at her and said, “I know, right?”
Before you tell me to shut the door or hold the phone, because there’s no way you’re going to give your child gum when they’re running around the house like crazy. I want you to hear me out just for a second. Gum is actually a very quick and easy way to give your kids more than one form of sensory input.
Not only will they use their sense of taste, and smell, and touch, they’ll also be using their sense of proprioceptive as they chew, and chomp, and give their jaws the input that their body is seeking.
This little tip works so well, that my son’s teacher started letting him have them at school.
Burrito rolls have to be one of my favorite things I’ve learned about since learning about proprioceptive system. My kids love it too. Gather the kids around with your favorite blanket, sprawl the blanket out on the floor and have one child lay on top of the blanket with their head off of the blanket. Gently wrap the blanket around them so that they look like a burrito with their head sticking out.
Now it’s time for all the toppings. As you pretend to put sour cream, and cheese, and lettuce, and salsa on your burrito, gently squeeze your child’s arms, and legs, and joints, and muscles. They will giggle and laugh all while getting their proprioceptive input. The other kids will be begging for their turn.
The good news is, as soon as you’re done unwrapping your burritos, you will notice their energy level has gone down about five notches.
All right. Let’s be honest. You can’t take a blanket with you everywhere you go. Some situations are not okay for your child to start walking around like a bear. I promised you that I would give you things you could do within 30 seconds anywhere you go.
The hands are an excellent way to get proprioceptive input into your child and settle them down no matter where you are.
And guess what? Their hands are going everywhere with them.
- If you’re at a restaurant, have them push up on the chair using only the palms of their hands.
- In line at the grocery store, have them give themselves hand squeezes, where they push their palms against each other.
- Need the kids to settle down before you get into the car? Have your kids push against you with both of the palms of their hands, trying to push you over.
- Need your kid’s to settle a little before sitting down for homework? Have them push their hands against the wall and do a few wall push-ups.
The truth is, once you learn about proprioceptive input and the magic that can happen when you start putting these little tiny exercises in your day, you are going to wonder why this isn’t plastered on every billboard in the world. You’ll have the secret tip in your back pocket. You can take it anywhere.
Just remember, the next time your kids go from the couch to roughhousing to running around and having their own grand Prix in your living room, instead of just telling them to go outside, take 30 seconds and have a little squeezy, squishy proprioceptive fun with them.
You’ll thank me later.
What began as a simple book with 75 simple crafts, games and activities to help adults and kids manage the most difficult parts of the day (mornings, wait times, mealtime, playtime, learning, and nighttime), The Superkids Activity Guide, slowly became a movement. The Superkids Movement and Activity Guide is aimed to empower ALL kids to speak up, share their superpowers and learn why they do the things they do so they can advocate for themselves!!
If you are tired of nagging your kids to settle down, exhausted with the constant jungle in your home, and ready to connect with your kids… this is the book for you!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dayna Abraham is the mother to three totally awesome superkids who inspire her every day to be the best grown-up sidekick they could ask for. When she’s not helping her kids conquer the world, she keeps busy by writing at lemonlimeadventures.com, writing books like Sensory Processing 101, STEAM Kids, and Learn and Play with LEGO®, and drinking lots of coffee. She loves getting her hands messy and creating crazy science projects and crafts to keep her super kids at home busy. Before she was a writer, she was a National Board Certified teacher, where she met some of the coolest superkids on earth. As a little girl, she wished grown-ups and other kids saw her as a superkid, so now she’s made it her mission to inspire kids like you to love who they are and embrace their differences.
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