As a human, we are wired to move. Movement is in our DNA. But what can we do to release all that excess energy?
Children seem to be born with endless energy. I remember when my children were toddlers. I often wondered where it all came from – and struggled to keep up with them at times.
Boundless energy, the insatiable need for learning and movement coupled with tired or overwhelmed parents, can become a recipe for disaster in the home.
In South Africa, our children all went on an early holiday because of Covid-19 lockdown. It was a sudden movement and left many families scrambling for a strategy.
Here are a few positive ideas to encourage a healthy release of energy. I’m going to break it down into young children, teens and then for you, the parent.
When we encourage our children to play, then learning and growth happen. I love this quote by O Fred Donaldson: “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play, children learn how to learn. ”
Children need to move
“Every day, in a 100 small ways, our children ask, ‘Do you hear me? Do you see me? Do I matter?’ Their behavior often reflects our response.” ~ L.R. Knost
Get them moving
Keeping your children inside all day with quieter activities will usually create a build-up of tension in their little bodies. Help keep them (and you calmer) by planning for daily physical activities. I remember taking my youngsters for walks, bike rides, and even races around the garden. I used to create a mini obstacle course for them in our garden. If space is limited consider dancing around to a fun song. It will be good for you as well.
Use what’s in nature
When your children play in nature, it not only aids learning but helps them relax as well. Don’t be scared of a little rain. When it’s raining, put on gumboots and a raincoat and go splash in puddles. Or make mud pies and go pick some flowers on a walk.
Think about their senses
Sensory play is a positive and helpful experience for your children. Try making natural playdough with essential oils mixed in. Get them cooking or baking with you. It is messy but builds the connection and memories. To this day, my son speaks about all the cookie building (and dough eating) times we had when he was young. Get creative about stimulating their senses.
Teens thrive on creativity to get them moving
Although teens might look like they want to sleep or be in their rooms all the time, getting them outside and helping them process their excess energy is a win for all.
Covid-19 has produced an increase in anxiety in teens as never before. With so much uncertainty, many don’t know how to handle the changes in schooling, lack of sport or natural life rhythms. You can help this by encouraging regular movement.
Healthy peer pressure
Talk to your teens about different activities their friends are doing? For example, tennis games, going to the golf driving range or learning a new sport with their friends. Use healthy peer pressure to your advantage.
Even though they might look as if they don’t want to be around you, they really do need you more than ever.
Creatively encourage family connection by going for a walk together or setting up an exercise routine that you all do at your own pace throughout the day. Educate them about the benefits of healthy exercise as you work at building resilience in their lives. Teens need 1 hour or more of moderate to strong physical activity daily. It’s so very necessary to their growth and well-being.
Give them control over how they move
In an article on Kid’sHealth, the writer expresses that parents should give teens control over how they decide to be physically active. Teens want to make their own decisions, so give them a choice. Emphasize that it’s not what they do — they just need to be active.
Once they get started, many teens enjoy the feelings of well-being, reduced stress, and increased strength and energy they get from exercise. As a result, some begin to exercise regularly without nudging from a parent.
Make it an easy win for your teen. For example, buy a skipping rope or help them get what they need to get moving. Celebrate exercise wins in the home. I’ve realized that as my children grew into teens, that when they exercise regularly, their mood improves and their ability to concentrate grows.
“The word ‘education’ comes from the Latin ‘educere’ = e- (out of) + -ducere (to draw). Education is not just about putting information in. We have forgotten that it, in fact, begins in the child’s heart.” ~ Vince Gowmon
“A child must know that he is a miracle, that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world there will not be, another child like him.” ~ Pablo Casals
“If children feel safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings, and grow.” ~ Alfie Kohn
Adults need to get rid of their excess energy too
Too much stress, anxiety and a build-up of feeling overwhelmed are not good. Right, we know that. But what can we do about it?
Sometimes we don’t even realize we have too much energy because we feel tired. Here are a few practical tips for parents. Remember you are your child’s first role model.
Plan some exercise into your daily routine.
Just as you would plan a meeting in your diary, schedule exercise into your routine. I read a saying a while ago that said, “For health and wellbeing sit in the sun for 30 minutes, in times of stress, sit in the sun for an hour.” In times of stress, one of the first things to fly out of the window is our exercise routine, yet it is the very thing we need.
Figure out what you enjoy
When movement is enjoyable, we are likely to do it more often. One day, I returned home from a 25k trail run and hike. My mom remarked how alive my eyes looked. I was really tired from the day out but felt alive.
Be aware of your body and senses
Smell the surrounding smells, look around you, listen to the birds. In other words, be fully present. Pack your phone away but be here, right now.
Dance like no one is watching
Belt out your favourite tune, put the music on loud and dance as you used to as a child. Did you know that dancing develops muscles, tones your body, improves your posture, balance, coordination and promotes greater flexibility. Plus, you’ll find that you will probably end of laughing or smiling and that’s such a good thing too.
Laugh till your belly aches
A good laugh doesn’t just lighten your load mentally, it enhances your intake of oxygen-rich air and increases the endorphins that are released by your brain. Laughter can stimulate circulation and aid muscle relaxation. What a great energy release!
Now, when you feel like there is too much energy in your home, pick one of these options and get moving. It will do you all the world of good!