Christmas break will soon be over and our children will soon be returning to school for a new semester. How can we help them have the best day in school? Is there a way to boost their memory and increase decision-making abilities? If so, doing so could benefit their academic achievement and social interactions. And, a recent study suggests a possibility to actually do this (click here for PsyBlog review)! Although this study looked specifically at older adults, the review notes several studies suggest the same is true for young adults and common sense tells us it is true for children and youth. What boosts memory and decision-making abilities? Surprisingly, it is nothing extravagant or complex. In order to increase memory and positive decision-making ability in our children before school is to enhance their positive mood. Sounds simple; but, if you have kids, you know how complex it actually is to enhance a positive mood in the morning for children and teens. How can you enhance a positive mood in your children? Here are a few ideas:
- Prepare the night before. Set out clothes. Pack lunches. Put homework in the backpack. Do as much as you can the night before to eliminate the morning rush.
- Do not discuss emotionally loaded topics in the morning before school. Save the potentially conflictual issues for another time and place. And, when you do have the hard discussions, don’t lecture.
- Enjoy a healthy breakfast. A good meal helps increase positive moods. Talk with your children about the foods they prefer for breakfast and have those foods available.
- Be aware of your children’s sensitivities. Some children like quieter mornings. Some children are irritated by bright lights in the morning. Be aware of these sensitivities and set up the environment accordingly. If necessary, dim the lights and turn down the radio. These simple steps may help produce a positive mood which can boost memory and decision-making at school.
- Get up early enough that your children do not have to rush. Just 15-minutes earlier can provide a buffer of time to reduce stress and enhance positive mood.
Helping to enhance positive mood not only helps prepare for a positive school experience, but may help in those difficult discussions outside of school. When you need to discuss difficult topics with your children, increasing their positive mood may enhance that discussion. Increasing a positive mood in your children before such a discussion may help them make better decisions and remember the decision afterwards. So, tell a joke. Share a story. Sit down for a snack. Enjoy an activity together during the discussion. Whatever will increase their positive mood may also help the conversation go better and the outcome more enjoyable.