We’ve heard an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. This approach can be very beneficial when it comes to helping our children regulate during the day and avoid meltdowns. A consistent morning routine that includes calming and regulating activities can be a powerful tool to achieve this.
Morning regulation activities can set a positive tone, balance emotions, and enhance focus. Here are some activities to try to incorporate into your morning routine. Look at this list as a menu to choose from – pick and choose what works for you and your child.
Prayer or meditation can provide a sense of peace and calmness that can help your child face the challenges of the day with a sense of peace and a positive attitude. Whether it’s a short prayer, a moment of silence, or a guided meditation session, this activity can significantly improve your child’s mindset and emotional well-being.
Grounding is another effective morning activity. It involves connecting with the earth’s natural energy to help balance your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The earth has a negative charge, and when we come in contact with it, the electrical state of our bodies interacts with it and attempts to become more neutral. This can be done by walking barefoot on grass or simply sitting and touching the earth. If you aren’t able to go outside, you can purchase grounding mats to use inside. Grounding can reduce stress, increase energy levels, and improve sleep.
After hours of sleep, our body can be dehydrated. Help your child rehydrate by drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning. This will kick-start their metabolism, flush out toxins, and rehydrate their body. A well-hydrated body is better able to conduct electrical impulses in the brain, and keep up with an active day. Consider adding flavors such as a twist of lemon, which will also provide added detoxification benefits, or using silly straws to make it more enticing for your child.
Physical activity in the morning can greatly increase your child’s energy levels and improve their mood. Yoga or stretching exercises provide proprioceptive input to our brains, and can enhance flexibility, improve posture, and help your child stay calmer throughout the day. Joining them can help you regulate, and make a positive connection first thing in the morning!
You don’t need an hour-long session; even a 15-minute routine can make a significant difference.
Essential oils have been used for centuries for their therapeutic properties. If your child is receptive to scents, consider using aromatherapy. In the morning, you can use oils such as lavender for relaxation, peppermint for energy, or citrus for a mood boost. You can either inhale them, use them in a diffuser, or apply them topically after diluting with a carrier oil. Always ensure safety and dilution, as some oils are consider “hot” and can be harmful if used straight from the bottle.
Practicing breath control or mindful breathing can help your child start their day on a calm and focused note. It can reduce stress, increase mental clarity, and improve overall health. Encourage them to take a belly-expanding breath in, then a lengthy exhale. A helpful technique for children is to have them hold up their hand and blow on their fingertips as if blowing out imaginary candles. They can put each finger down as they blow out that candle! Or simply have them blow bubbles on your way out the door!
Vitamin H (Hugs)
Lastly, don’t forget to give and receive hugs. Hugs provide proprioceptive input and release a hormone called oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone,” which can improve your child’s mood and make you feel loved and appreciated. If they tend to wake up irritable or demanding, it might be best to attempt this before they’re fully awake. But never force it.
Another simple yet effective morning activity is the toe touch exercise. It elongates the hamstrings and back muscles which provides proprioceptive input to the brain, increases flexibility, and promotes blood circulation. An added benefit to bringing your head below your chest is a reduction in blood pressure. Just make sure they stand up slowly so they don’t lose their balance! Remember, we are not looking for perfection in touching their toes, so no critiquing their form or encouraging them to stretch harder! The goal is for your child to lean over, bring their head below their chest, and breathe calmly. Your child can benefit from as little as 5 slow, controlled toe-touches to start the day!
Incorporating some of these morning regulation activities into your child’s daily routine can significantly improve your child’s emotional state and physical well-being. It sets the stage for a positive day and can reduce the likelihood of meltdowns. Remember, every small step toward creating a calmer morning can have a profound impact on your child’s overall regulation. And if you join them, you will likely feel better as well!
If you’d like some more calming strategies to choose from, check out Calm Down, Child, 50+ Strategies to Calm the Fight, Flight, Freeze Response in Your Anxious, Stressed, and Angry Child by our founder Kim Hazelton, OTR/L