It’s time for bed, and the kiddos are running around like a pack of wild monkeys. Sound familiar? What’s a tired mama to do? This is for all you parents out there: 7 Simple Ways to Calm Restless Children.
I love my kids. I do. They are beautiful and amazing. And they are my biggest teachers. My first daughter was quiet and mellow. She made being a mama super easy for me in the early years. It wasn’t until the teen years that she gave me a run for my money.
Then along came my second. Sweet Little Pearl. The most loving, joyful being you will ever meet. Full of compassion and empathy. Smart as a whip and more curious than a monkey. And the most energetic little one ever. I had no idea how much energy a toddler could have. Being my second, I thought that I had it all under control. This was going to be a piece of cake. Little did I know that this angelic little creature was going to be so full of life and so non-stop.
Being a parent is one of the most rewarding things in my life. But it is also one of the hardest things that I have ever done. When Little Pearl came into our household, we had to figure out how to maintain the family balance with such an active little human running around. I tend to get ungrounded and spun out when the energy around me is chaotic, so finding ways to maintain peace and calm in our household has been important.
Now I know that kids will be kids. They have tons of energy and love to have fun. I totally believe in letting them do their thing. But when bed time comes around, it’s time to settle down and go to bed. Today I am going to share with you 7 simple way that I have found to calm restless little ones. It’s all common sense stuff. But it’s sometimes nice to put it all together.
And for all of you parents out there with spirited little humans, know that you are not alone. These lively little ones come bearing many beautiful gifts. It is our job to help them harness those gifts and to help them walk in the world in a way that best serves them and everyone else around them.
Hope you find some of these tips helpful!
7 Simple Ways to Calm Restless Children
1. Embrace a Real Food Diet:
Feeding your children a wholesome diet full of nutrient-dense foods will ensure that their growing little bodies are getting everything that they need to grow and thrive. What we feed our children affects every part of their experience. There is research that suggests that mineral deficiencies can lead to behavioral issues like hyperactivity and ADHD.
Feeding them lots of healthy fats, good quality proteins, and nourishing carbs will keep their blood sugars and energy levels stable. Don’t get caught in the refined carbohydrate snack culture that we live in. Kids need REAL food to feel full and grounded. How many of you have witnessed a small child melting down from either being hungry or crashing from a sugar high? Avoiding refined sugars will help avoid these meltdowns as well.
Going organic is not only good for the planet, it’s good for the kiddos as well. A study published in the journal Pediatrics concluded that children exposed to organophosphate pesticides at levels typically found in conventional produce are more likely to develop attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Eliminating processed foods and all food additives is another way to maintain peace and calm in the home. Food additives have been linked to hyperactivity and restlessness in small children.
And I highly recommend avoiding ALL caffeine when it comes to little ones. They don’t need it. It’s not good for them. And it disrupts sleep. Why get their bodies used to something that countless adults struggle to give up. To this day, I have never given my little one chocolate. There will be time for that later.
2. Create Rhythm:
One of the biggest things that I have learned about maintaining a peaceful environment in my household is to create rhythm. Small children thrive when they know what is happening and when they are held in a nurturing way. I say the word “held” because small children need boundaries so they feel safe. They know what to expect and what is expected.
Having a daily rhythm is good for the whole family. Things just run more smoothly. Eating meals at regular times, having regular quiet time during the day, having regular nap times, having regular story time, and having regular bed times offers a framework for the family to follow so everyone knows what to expect and what will be happening.
Now I know this is not always realistic and trying to stick to a strict schedule can sometimes cause more stress than necessary. But it’s helpful to take a look at your family rhythm and see if there is a way to make things flow a little easier.
3. Get Lots of Sleep:
For many children, being tired exacerbates restlessness and crankiness. If your kids are anything like my Little Pearl, they probably get more ungrounded when they are tired. Creating healthy sleep routines and ensuring that your kids are getting to bed early will go a long way in calming restless energies.
- Aged 1-3 : 12-14 hours per day
- Aged 3-6 : 12 hours per day
- Aged 7-12 : 10-12 hours per day
So think about what time your kids get up each morning. What time would they have to go to bed in order to get adequate sleep? My 3 year old goes to bed at 630pm every evening as she wakes up by 7am every day. These are only average recommendations. There will be some children who need more and a few who may do OK with less. It’s up to us as parents to figure out what best serves our children.
4. Reduce Stimulation:
Remember that TV, video games, and computers are extremely stimulating to children and can make winding down for bed challenging. Research has shown that the light from a television screen (or computer monitor) can interfere with the production of the hormone melatonin. When melatonin levels are at their highest, most people are sleepy and ready for bed. Just a half an hour of TV before bed can mess with that enough to keep your child up an extra two hours!
In our household, we have not introduced any digital media to our 3 year old as of yet. I know this is not realistic in some households, but I highly recommend experimenting with limiting any sort of media later in the day to see if it bed time and quality of sleep.
5. Keep Them Active:
The best way to have tired children in the evening is to keep them active during the day. Let them get their energy out so they can rest. I’m not talking about over-scheduling their every waking moment. This kind of activity can lead to more restlessness.
What I’m talking about is active playtime outside in the fresh air and sunshine. Let them move their bodies. Ride a bike. Jump on a trampoline. Take a nice walk in the woods. Go for a swim. Play games. Sit in the dirt.
Spending too much time indoors sitting in front of a TV or computer screen will promote more restless behavior later. It over-stimulates the mind while under-stimulating the body.
6. Essential Oils:
Essential oils have been such a blessing for me and my own quality of sleep. I have a hard time sleeping when I have too much going on in my life. I decided to try them on my little one to help promote a calm and peaceful environment.
I use Vetiver for general grounding and to support her nervous system during the day. I diffuse it during her one hour of quiet time in the afternoon. I dilute it and rub it onto the bottom of her feet. I use Lavender in the same way.
Joy is Pearl’s favorite essential oil to diffuse. It’s the one she asks for most often. Joy has a lovely floral smell that makes us all feel happy. I diffuse it when I’m feeling overwhelmed by noise and chaos. I also rub Stress Away on myself at this point.
Roman Chamomile can be soothing for those emotional outbursts that little ones sometimes have. It can also promote a good nights sleep. Put 1 drop on the pillow at bedtime. You can also add a drop or 2 to a warm bath. I usually drop the oil onto some epsom salts first to help the oils disperse.
Peace and Calming is a wonderful essential oil for settling wild monkeys. It promotes relaxation and emotional well-being. It is used by many to promote restful sleep and to calm anxious feelings. I diffuse this at bedtime and also use it on Little Pearl’s feet.
7. Give Magnesium:
Magnesium is an easy way to help calm restless children. It is a mineral that is associated with relaxation and better quality of sleep. Magnesium aids in calming the nerves and relaxing the muscles. I have found that adding a 1/2 cup of epsom salt to my little one’s nightly bath is an easy way to use magnesium for good sleep. I let her soak in it for at least 20 minutes to allow her body to absorb the minerals. I often add a drop of two of calming essential oils as well.
Another way to get magnesium into your little ones is THIS magnesium supplement. We use it occasionally for better sleep. I give my little one 1/8 tsp in a bit of warm water. I will do this a couple times a day if we are having a restless week. Be aware that magnesium can cause loose stool and cramping if you have too much. Always start small and work up from there. Constipation can also make little ones feel restless so adding a titch of magnesium may be helpful if this is an issue for your child.
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Do you have any favorite tricks to clam restless children? I’d love to hear about it!
photo credit: depositphotos @ monkeybusiness and @ SIphotography
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