So as the summer holidays draw to a close (rather too quickly sometimes) increasingly thoughts, positive and negative, of the new school year ahead begin to gather for our children. Whether our children are happy at their current school, beginning a new school or moving school, September can be a challenging month emotionally for them.
Towards the end of the holidays our focus is geared more to the preparations of going back to school, the dreaded school uniform buying shopping trips and generally getting everyone ship shape for the beginning of term. So it really is worth taking a little time to prepare ourselves and our children, being mindful of the enormity of this change in energy, new surroundings and friends. Transitions are indeed a vulnerable time for children, often because of the ‘fear of the unknown’. Mindfulness can help children manage their own emotions and better handle their fears. As a parent, if you notice your child is a little quieter around the subject of school, shuts down or is beginning to play up a little, it is time to take action. So I wanted to share some of my survival tips for going ‘back to school’…
The ‘Gratitude’ Jar or ‘Happy Thoughts’ Jar
This is my absolute favourite for helping children focus on the positive elements of going back to school. Begin by creating your own jar; recycle a jam jar or pot and have some fun decorating it. You can then ask everyone in the family to write 3 things down that happened over the last couple of days that made them feel happy and smiley, loved or relaxed. Do this every couple of days. There is so much to be grateful for in our lives – be it the sun shining, hugs with our pets or parents, flowers in our gardens, juicy blackberries waiting to be picked…Practicing gratitude helps move the focus of our worries to the more wonderful aspects of our lives. Writing our thoughts down embeds these positive happier experiences more into our memory banks – and this is good!
2 Step 1 Breath
This is a simple ninja exercise for you and your children to practice at any time of the day if you feel worried, anxious or angry you can try this simple experiment. Two Feet One Breath can help stop worrying in its tracks and gives you a moment to see more clearly.
Take a moment to pause, stealth stamp both feet on the floor and take a big breath in and a slow breath out. Your breath is your support, it helps you stay focused and in the present.
Just stop, stealth stamp and breathe.
A wonderful way to talk about worries is with the family all sitting together at the kitchen table with no distractions. Every member comes to the table and each shares a worry. The family then take it in turns to suggest kind ways to help that child or adult manage their worry. Sharing our ‘coping with worries’ suggestions and supporting each other is a wonderfully kind way for children to feel empowered. Making a useful contribution and learning other ways from family members to manage their worries, it also lets them know that everyone has worries and it is normal, no matter our age!
I love teaching belly breathing in my school clubs and my teenagers use it too. It is an easy meditation to do lying or sitting down. Belly breathing is about breathing down into your belly so it expands as if there is a balloon inside it and contracts as you breathe out. Breathe in for a count of 4 and out for a count of 8 and if you want to, you can put a toy or phone on your tummy to help you do it properly. You can belly breathe in the car, at home, in bed, at school – anywhere! Here is a Belly Breathing Meditation to help you.
This exercise helps children to help focus their energy on what makes them feel good. Try setting an intention for the first week of school, for the term or maybe for one day by taking time to identify something that is meaningful, kind or to help your child feel good about themselves. It also takes the mind off a ruminating worry and this could be making a new friend, trying a new activity, getting ‘more organised’ in the morning or to regularly write something for their gratitude jar.
Feel Good Smiles
Smiling can help you feel good even when you are feeling worried or anxious. Set a timer for a minute and put a big smile on your face, and have a ‘smile-off’ noticing how you feel afterwards. Try to think of a sad thought while you are smiling – it is virtually impossible!
I teach mindfulness 1-1 sessions for children and parents if you have a particular concern, please give me a call on 07733 033726 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org or check my website out for courses and sessions.
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