Returning to school can be a big and stressful transition for children. Even your smallest kids may be feeling stressed or anxious. A new school year brings a new teacher, new routines, new classmates and all kinds of new schoolwork. That much change could make anyone feel overwhelmed, but children often don’t know how to cope with these big emotions.
Parents have their own stress and often are working on dealing with their own big emotions. This can make it difficult to know how to help your child regulate their feelings. Luckily, the techniques that adults use to manage stress and anxiety can also help their children. Try some of these calming activities with your kids to help the entire family unwind.
Breathing techniques are a tried and true method to lower your heart rate, and help you feel more relaxed. You and your child can practice bubble breathing together. First, hold up an imaginary bubble wand with your hand. Now take a deep breath in, and breathe out slowly into the bubble wand, just like you were blowing a bubble. Imagine the bubble floating away. Do this 10 times and you’ll find yourself feeling more relaxed.
Walking 10 minutes a day can improve your mental and physical health. A walk after dinner improves digestion and can help you sleep more restfully. Take your little ones for a nature walk for a nice wind-down activity. Leave your devices at home and focus on enjoying the beauty of the trees and the flowers. Stop and listen to the sounds you hear. Breathe in the fresh air and relax.
Release excess energy and the tension in your muscles by doing a simple imagination exercise. For this activity you will imagine yourself making lemonade. Start by imagining yourself underneath a big lemon tree. Now reach up high above your head to grab the lemons. Now squeeze the lemons until the juice comes out. Toss the lemons on the ground when they’re out of juice. Stir in the sugar and water. Now shake the lemonade jar!
Stop the Panic
If you or your child are feeling especially overwhelmed, you can use the 54321 method to stop a panic attack in its tracks. Look around the room and find five things you can see. Say them out loud. Now look for four things you could touch. Find three you can hear, two you can smell and one you can taste. This grounding exercise can stop a panic attack and help you feel calm in a stressful situation.
Practicing being calm can help us be prepared for when we need it most. Choose one or two of these activities and do it on a regular basis to help your and your little ones have a less stressful week.