The 4 Things Our Kids MUST Do!

From pregnancy to labor, infancy, to the toddler years! There are so many things going on for our kids as they grow and develop through this amazing time in their lives.

As a parent, it can be overwhelming to try and keep up with everything our kids are going through as they grow and develop.

Especially for ages 0-6 years old.

Why?

During the first 6 years of life, our kid's brains and bodies are going to go through one of THE BIGGEST growth spurts of their entire lives.

To make sure that our kiddos are moving through this time at the best that they can we want to make sure that they are doing 4 things well!

First, EATING.

Some of you may be thinking “Duh, Dr. Zach we know that!”

It may seem like a common sense thing to say, but there are small things to pay attention to about our kids eating habits.

Most kiddos will have their “go-to’s” that they will almost always eat.

Probably the most common “go-to’s” for kids are mac & cheese and/ or chicken nuggets.

There is nothing wrong with these foods in moderation, but it raises concerns when these are the only things being eaten.

A potential reason that kiddos may only want mac & cheese and/or chicken nuggets is probably less to do with taste and more to do with texture.

When the brain/nervous system is in a stressed/ over-stimulated state it can create less than optimal sensory function.

In other words, if there is less the optimal sensory function this may cause kiddos to be overly sensitive to the way food feels in their mouths. Making the soft and squishy feeling of mac & cheese and/ or chicken nuggets more appealing than other foods.

Second, SLEEP.

It is a very well known fact that we must sleep to regain our energy.

One of the other reasons we need rest is to allow our body to repair and grow!

This is why it is so important for kids to sleep, especially from ages 0-6 years old.

The brain and body of are growing at such a rapid rate that rest is at an absolute premium for them.

In order for kiddos to sleep AND sleep well the brain/ nervous system has to be in a more balanced state.

Think about it like this, if your child’s brain/nervous system is functioning in a stressed state chronically and constantly “on the lookout” do you think that they are going to sleep well?

No! It is not because they are not tired, it is more than likely that their systems are unable to fully relax because it is not transitioning between stress and balance as well as it should.

Third, POOP (and pee).

Not a popular topic to talk about, but it is important.

Can we agree that if you or your child are not doing these two things that there is more than likely an issue going on?

It may be redundant, but it is VITAL to understand - Balance vs. Stress, Rest/Digest vs. Fight/Flight, Stay/Play vs Runaway. No matter how you word it, the brain must be able to transition between these two sides well.

If your child’s brain/ nervous system is stressed. his or her digestion is going to be less than optimal. All the functions and processes meant for digestion occur when the system is balanced.

When stressed, those functions and processes shut down and are turned towards the muscles in the extremities to prepare the body to run away, fight, or freeze. In this place, digestion cannot happen!

Fourth, Eye contact.

The eyes are DIRECTLY connected to the brain and are a great indication of the brain/nervous system function.

If your kiddos brain/nervous system is stressed, in “protection mode” their eyes may not focus on objects.

Most importantly, you. The parent!

Eye contact is an early sign of non-verbal communication and is a predictor for verbal communication as kids continue to grow and develop.

What do all 4 of these have in common?

They are all basic functions of the brain/nervous system!

Why am I focusing on these?

Kiddos must be able to do these things well to ensure that they are growing and developing at their VERY BEST!

The brain/ nervous system runs the show for kids as they grow and develop AND will continue to do so through every stage of their lives.

Making sure that it is functioning at its best early in life will allow them a better chance to lay a strong foundation for optimal health for the remainder of their lives!

Zach Thomas