So, school has been back in session for several weeks now and those of you with school-aged children are probably welcoming the stability and structure in your schedule. However, with the new set of demands that a new teacher, classroom, and maybe even a new school for your child can bring, we can also begin to see signs of stress and anxiety in our children that they may need your help working through.
Children need time to adapt just like we do. To this day, as much of a self-proclaimed extrovert that I may think I am, I still can’t walk into a seminar or meeting room and just start chattin’ it up. I need time to scope it out, feel the vibe, see who I feel is a potential comrade on my journey.
Children need more time and permission to express themselves. Even if they feel that they’ve conquered the routine, demands in the classroom or the pressure of fitting in with friends can be the new focus.
What’s Important To Remember
Although as adults we’ve all been through feelings like this, your child may have not. Emotions may be running high, and words and phrases from you such as “It’ll be ok, you’re fine,” really make a child feel unheard and insecure. In fact, it’s the perfect time to sit and listen and – most importantly – validate these emotions and thoughts they are experiencing.
It’s important for them to know you are there to listen to them when they need to cash in on those feelings of love and security.
Maybe you don’t feel you have the “right” thing to say, and that’s ok. What’s important is that your child feels loved and worthy to be heard. Try saying, “I see you’re having a hard time…” or “I can see that you’re feeling ____ about your (new class/teacher, whatever the issue) and I am here to listen.”
Ideas on how to help them through stressful times
There are plenty of age-appropriate books that you can read with your child to help them through these anxious moments. If your child is old enough, journaling or drawing their feelings out can help give them the confidence they need to start feeling they are in control of the situation.
A personal favorite I like to teach my children, and even the preschoolers I teach, is meditation.
This is becoming an even more popular practice and I am personally all for it. The earlier we can teach coping skills to our children, the better off they will feel in the long run when facing challenges in the ever so formative years.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean roll out the yoga mat and make them sit in lotus position. Meditation can mean turning on some classical music while coloring or drawing or, if you are a religious person, then meditation can be a time you sit with them in prayer.
Go for a nature walk and literally stop and smell the roses! If you are a fan of essential oils, it would be a great time to diffuse some of those and just take some deep breaths.
Whatever you choose, it can really help them to center themselves and provide the path for coping with situations that will really help them now and especially as they get older. Studies show that some of the benefits of meditation are that it can help to improve moods, improve sleep, and reduce stress and anxiety, to name a few. Sounds like you may even benefit too!
Most importantly, be in the moment with them.
Show them that their feelings have a place in your heart and you are going to be there to see them through it. Give them the confidence to know they are strong enough to work it out and that you are right beside them when they need you.
Then I suggest you PLAY. Even just for 20 minutes, PLAY with your child!
Force yourself to not worry about dinner, laundry, cleaning, or whatever else circles around our parenting heads and just be silly! It’s good for the soul and soon enough you’ll be sharing priceless giggles that can even help you feel like you’ve forgotten your stressors of the moment. When life is getting a little to “much” for me, I like to remind myself that inside every great parent is a silly child.