In the final part of my 3-Part Series to Help Kids Succeed at School, I focus on how to cultivate regulation and resilience as we head into the holiday season… in the midst of pandemic living.
Bringing It All Together
To recap the previous posts in this series:
Tip #1: Tune Into Body Signals — This post was aimed at helping kids put words to what they experience in their body through Body Checks.
Tip #2: Create a Feel-Good Menu — Here we explored how to identify and promote Feel-Good body signals and emotions as a way for kids to connect with more things that make them feel comfortable.
So now that we’ve got kids tuning into their bodies and connecting with what makes them feel good, we then bring it all together with Tip #3.
Tip #3 – Schedule Feel-Good Breaks
Once Feel-Good Menus are complete, we then embed them into the daily schedule–whether that is at school or at home. That way everyone in class and/or the family knows that at certain times in the routine we’re all going to pause whatever we’re doing to take a quick Feel-Good Break and choose something to do from our Feel-Good Menu.
Timing + Activity
What we choose to do from our menu depends on the length of our break. Some of our breaks are only five minutes long and so we choose an activity from our respective menus that can be completed quickly. We also pre-schedule a few longer Feel-Good Breaks. Like at lunchtime, we have a 30-minute Feel-Good Break and in the evenings, we have a 1-hour long Feel-Good Break. Sometimes it can be helpful to categorize the activities on the Feel-Good Menu into ‘quick activities’–can be done in 5 or less minutes and ‘longer activities’–where you need 30 plus minutes to complete. Do this collaboratively with the child ahead of time to avoid debates ‘in the moment’.
Benefits of a Feel-Good Menu & Scheduled Feel-Good Breaks
This exercise is invaluable because it not only helps kids identify activities that promote comfortable feelings within their bodies, but it prompts us all to proactively schedule them into our daily routine. And don’t forget about scheduling your own Feel-Good Breaks! As the therapist, teacher, caregiver or parent–taking our own Feel-Good Breaks shows by example how important it is to stop, tune-in and take a few minutes to promote comfortable feelings within our body.
Why Feel-Good Breaks are Helpful For Those That Struggle With Interoception
What I’ve learned is that proactively scheduling these Feel-Good Breaks is especially helpful for those that struggle with interoception. They don’t always notice the discomfort in their bodies, or maybe they notice the discomfort, but they’re not sure exactly what it means. Regardless, most likely, they’re not seeking out breaks on their own or seeking out a Feel-Good strategy on their own. So by proactively scheduling Feel-Good Breaks, it takes away that need to monitor the way their body is feeling and realize when they need to pause and take a break.
Proactively Avoiding Meltdowns
For many of my clients, when they experience a meltdown they don’t recognize the building feelings indicating that they are growing overwhelmed, anxious or frustrated. They miss the clues that it is a good time to pause and take a Feel-Good Break. Then, seemingly out of the blue, they are in the midst of a meltdown which at that point it is often too late to think about what activity to use from their Feel-Good Menu. So, the goal with proactively scheduling the Feel-Good Breaks is to give them lots of opportunities to regulate their bodies and decrease the occurrence of meltdowns.
Cultivating Regulation + Resilience
The combination of Creating Feel-Good Menus + Proactively Scheduling Feel-Good Breaks has become one of my favorite strategies to do with clients and as well as teach to other therapists, teachers and caregivers. By creating and implementing these strategies together we help kids find balance throughout the day, so that ultimately they can become more regulated and resilient in today’s constant changing landscape.
If you want to take a deeper dive into more structured ways of creating feel good menus, in my Interoception Curriculum I’ve included 15 different menus that contain 85+ activities to explore with your clients, and if you’re a parent or self-helper we have a section in My Interoception Workbook that also explores creating and implementing your own Feel-Good Menus & Breaks!
READ THE ENTIRE SERIES