The Whole-Brain Child brings us Whole Brain Strategy #5: Move It or Lose It: Exercising the Upstairs Brain. I can’t read that title without getting the “I Like to Move It” song stuck in my head, but that’s partly because Elise performed a tap number to that song for her dance recital. But anyway, “Move It or Lose It” is based on research that shows, “when we change our physical state—through movement or relaxation, for example—we can change our emotional state.” So, “the next time your children need help calming down or regaining control, look for ways to get them moving … the point is to help your child regain some sort of balance and control by moving their body, which can remove blockages and pave the way for integration to return.”
We need to do the exercise or activity with our children. You can play a game, do jumping jacks, whatever you like to do together, but you also need to consider whether your child is tired or hungry. Most of mine and Elise’s troubles come from not eating enough for breakfast or not getting enough sleep the night before, so I have to consider whether she’s hungry or tired while trying to decide which strategy to apply to our situation. I do know she needs to be calmed before I offer her something to eat or I might get the food item lobbed back at me. Hopefully, some family jumping jacks or tap dance routines can help us.
What I find most interesting about strategy #5 is that it’s what works for me – most of the time. I need to go to another room and do an activity (lock myself in the bathroom), go for a walk or exercise, so I can clear my head and focus on a task. I do have a distinct memory from my childhood of acting a little crazy and being told to go outside and run ten laps around the tree in our driveway, and I did it. I only had to do it once, so I’m sure it worked. My sister thought it was really funny. But all joking aside, I definitely see the value in teaching this strategy to my children since I use it to help myself.
So the next time your child is about to lose it, get them to move it first.