The past two weeks have been exciting and difficult at the same time for my little baby. There is insurmountable pressure within the first two weeks of school to get back in the hang of things. First grade is not what I remember it to be. When I was growing up, school was nothing to be worried about. I believe there's so much pressure to succeed now because of state standards. My child comes home and is exhausted in her beautiful little mind. By the time her cute self grabs a snack and sits down at the kitchen table to do homework, she is quite literally done with mind work for the day. She'd prefer to express herself through laughter and vertical expansions toward the ceiling, yet I am her imprisoner, the imaginary chain forcing her to focus on the numbers and letters which she must form herself before she can do any sort of fun. It is very stressful when your child is breaking down before your eyes, crying her heart out, not just because she doesn't want to do the work, but because her mind is shutting down. I get it. It happens to me as well. There is a certain point in the long day when your brain says, I cannot handle any more after this hour. It's not only adults who suffer from stress, but children do as well.
As a parent, I am unsettled in this. I hate to see my child so stressed.
So I figured...there must be steps to de-stressing that even children can use.
Helping Children De-Stress
- Muscle relaxation exercises: Have your child make their fist really tight, then have them open their hand, moving their fingers, making them really relaxed. This is the difference between a relaxed body and a stressed body. Do this with other body parts.
- Breathing exercises: When your child gets too stressed, their breathing might become heavier, faster. In order to get back to a more relaxed state to work, ask your child to put their two hands on their rib cage, middle fingertips touching, then ask them to breathe in. Have them notice that when taking a deep breath, their two middle fingertips will separate. Let the breath out. Repeat.
- Visualize: Have children close their eyes. Have them visualize a specific scene, like a white sandy beach with clouds so low they can almost touch them, or ask them to visualize their name. Have them spell it forward and backward. This helps take students away from the stressful situation and focus on something familiar or calming to refocus their mind.
- Your Happy Place: Have children close their eyes and imagine a happy place or a place that they feel good in. This is a great technique to use when children need to feel that peace or calm that comes with their favorite place.
I hope this helps other parents who are also finding the start of the year to be a stressful one for you and your little one.
For more tips on how to de-stress your children, click here.
These tips above were inspired by How Parents Can Help Kids De-Stress.