How to Help Kids Balance Their Vata
I have often heard children described as being resilient—able to move and shift with all the changes that life brings. As a mom of two, I have witnessed this to be true. However, over the course of this past year, the stress of the global pandemic has challenged even the most adaptable child.
For adults and children alike, the year was full of unpredictability, constant disruptions of schedules, heightened feelings of anxiousness, and technology overload. This combination created what Ayurveda might describe as the perfect recipe for household vata derangement!
As we move through vata season in the northern hemisphere and continue to adjust to this ever-changing “normal,” it’s important that we adopt ways to balance excess vata and support our children in doing the same.
How to Create a Supportive Daily Routine
Vata imbalances can show up in children as fatigue, restlessness, hyperactivity, anxiousness, and poor concentration. One of the most practical ways to support children in pacifying vata is to create regular routines and rhythms for the day.
The consistency and predictability of a daily routine provides a stable, grounding quality that can assist in reducing stress and activating healthy lifestyle habits.
Start by creating a daily schedule that is planned around your family’s unique rhythms and needs. Be specific with time frames, creating a structure that your child can flow through easily. It’s a wonderful idea to include your children in the process of creating the daily routine. For little ones, this can be exciting and fun!
My son was thrilled to create a chart with his daily routine. We used a piece of thick art paper to write it out and then used crayons and stickers to decorate. You can also use a small dry erase board or chalkboard so that you can easily make changes as your routine evolves.
Be sure to place the chart somewhere visible, so that it’s easy to follow throughout the day. I also bought my son a watch, which brought an even greater element of excitement and helped him move through his day in a timely fashion!
Here’s one example of a daily routine:
- Regular wake up time
- Get dressed and ready for school
- School/work time
- School/work time
- Movement/arts and crafts/chores/outdoor activity
- Family mealtime
- Relaxing activity/quiet time
- Bath time
- Regular bedtime
While many of our tasks tend to be functional, be sure to also create moments of both enjoyable and educational activities, plus time to connect as a family. Try creating a window for rest and quiet time as well. This allows space to teach children the value of slowing down, particularly at the end of the day.
Children thrive on predictability and love having an idea of how the day will go. However, it’s equally important that children also maintain a level of flexibility and adaptability. Because after all, even with the support of a daily routine, every day is different and full of surprises.
Keeping this in mind, it's okay to create space for free time, spontaneity, and play. Your routine doesn’t need to become a source of stress, should circumstances cause a disturbance in the regular schedule.
Vata-Balancing Practices for Children
In addition to routines, there are many other stress-reducing habits to support the mental, emotional, and physical health of growing children. The Ayurvedic practices below are examples of relaxing activities to calm the body and prepare for a healthy night's sleep during vata season, not just for children, but for parents too!
Shut Off Technology
Turn off electronics and step away from screens, ideally 1½–2 hours before bedtime, to reduce stimulation and allow the body to begin producing melatonin. This practice will help calm the nervous system and prepare your kiddos for a restful night of sleep.
Yoga and Meditation
A brief, gentle yoga practice to stretch the body, along with a short, breath-centered meditation, gives kids permission to slow down, cultivate presence, and discharge any excess emotional or physical energy from the day. You can use our vata-pacifying yoga practice as a guide, and let your kids help you create the practice as you go!
Lavender and sandalwood essential oils are perfect for calming the mind and relaxing the body. You can use a diffuser or make them a part of your bedtime bath ritual. Just a couple drops will infuse bath time with an atmosphere of calm, or you can simply use lavender soap instead!
Sesame Oil Massage
The grounding practice of abhyanga, or oil massage, encourages strong immunity, increases circulation, balances vata, and improves sleep. Following bath time with a slow, gentle massage with warm sesame oil is a beautiful way to show some extra loving care to your children and ease them sweetly into dreamland. (For massage tips and how to avoid an oily mess, check out Banyan's oil massage guide.)