It is that time of year again, the slow days of summer take an about face and the sounds of children and some frantic parents lining up in anticipation..or worry of the first day of a new school year is again here.
This can be an anxious time for a child whether they are starting school for the first time, headed into a new grade or moving to a new school all together the anxiety they feel is real. It is a good time for parents to recognize this and provide a helping hand to calm those first day fears.
A mindful approach to this can help with the transition and normalize the first day jitters. This starts with you, Mom and Dad. Children are extra sensitive to their parents emotional states, so recognizing your own anxiety, fear, trepidation, and stress is key to a path of calmness during the next few days.
One of the easiest ways to get into a mindful state if with recognizing your breath. It only takes a minute.
Mindful breathing for one minute.
Lower your eyes and notice where you feel your breath. That might be at your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or stomach. You may need to place your hand on your stomach and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with your breath. If you like, you can just lengthen the in breath and the out breath or just breathe naturally. It is key to focus on your breath and not how you are breathing. Your body knows how to breathe.
Focus on your breath. In and out, nothing forced, just smooth and rhythmic. When your mind wanders, as it will do, just bring your attention back to your breath. You might like to say ‘thinking’ or ‘thought!’ when you notice your thoughts and just gently bring your attention back to your breath.
This can be done for longer than one minute. However, even for one minute it will allow you to pause and be in the moment. Or you might just like to breathe out stress on the out breath and breathe in peace on the in breath.
You can always go back to this exercise anytime you feel overwhelmed or anxious.
Deep Belly Breathing
This is a great exercise for kids to get them to let go of their anxious thoughts, and calm their active minds.
Prepare small objects for the for your child such as pebbles, pieces of domino, lego pieces, etc.
- invite your child to lie down on their backs
- place the objects on their belly
- ask them to observe the object as it rises and falls with each breath they take
This core exercise is excellent after your child has been active and to settle down after the high-energy activities the summer brings.
Remember to be aware of your child’s feelings, don’t ask them to dismiss them, they should be aware of them as well, just not react to them in the moment. Anxious feelings tend to come and go like ripples on a pond. Choose to share your positive experiences of returning to school, how you felt as well. Relate an anxious moment you may have had at work and ask your child what they might suggest for your to get through it, many times children are very creative in this position of empathy and come up with some wonderful ideas that not only benefit you as a caring, loving parent but can benefit them as well.
Good luck heading back to school! You’ve got this!
Benefits of Mindfulness at home and in the classroom.
Mindfulness helps children to:
- increase stimulation in the executive functioning of the brain
- improve focus and concentration
- develop compassion and self-compassion
- increase the sense of calm
- the science that shows them how their brain works
This will result in:
- increased self-awareness
- skillful response to difficult emotions
- increased empathy and understanding others
- natural conflict resolution skills
- happier, healthier kids who are willing to learn