Help your child start the school year ready to learn
Caitlyn Andrews, MA, MFTI
Did you know that excitement and anxiety can feel the same in your body? Have you ever noticed how children can be excited one minute and crying the next?
Starting a new school year brings up a variety emotions for children and parents alike. When experiencing both excitement and anxiety, the human heart beats with the same frequency and therefore is on “high alert” or an increased state of arousal. The difference between a happy child and a meltdown relies on the way our mind handles the arousal. The more calm and happy the child, the easier it will be to learn. During times of transition, it’s important to have strategies to help little ones (and ourselves) that need no advanced planning.
So what is Mindfulness anyway?
Mindfulness is simply being aware in the present moment. This awareness means you’re paying attention to what is happening without judgement and without ignoring feelings.
What are three easy mindfulness techniques to reduce anxiety and increase your child’s happiness and sense of calm?
- Next time you’re talking a walk, sitting in the car or doing an errand- ask your child to play the 3-2-1 game! That’s 3 things you see, 2 things you hear and 1 thing you feel. This can be done repetitively and helps children bring attention to the moment.
- Check in with your child’s feelings by asking them for their “weather report”. Is it raining (sad/grump)/overcast (anxious, tired)/sunny (happy, excited)? Is there a storm and where did it come from? Like the weather, you cannot change your mood instantly, but bringing awareness allows your child to feel seen and heard. Remind them that moods change and blow over. It’s important that children allow themselves to experience emotions and that they know you will be there no matter no matter the report.
- Does your child have a favorite place? Next time you notice a meltdown coming on, name that the child might be having “big feelings” and talk your child through thinking about their favorite place or a memory that will allow your child to remember a positive feeling. Ask detailed questions about sights, sounds and physical sensations.
*Tip: a calm child is a child who also feels connected to you- try putting a family picture or a note in your child’s backpack on the first day of school for a little surprise.
Wishing you and your family a smooth transition into the new school year!