That’s right, it’s creeping around the corner. It’s time for parents and caregivers to jettison their kids back to school. Some kids handle this really well, feeling excited to get the new notebooks, pens, and pencils, while for many, it’s downright stressful, a time filled with anxiety. It’s not too shocking that kids have difficulty managing uncomfortable, when their role models (us) model that same issue.

Here are a few mindful tips you can do as a parent to help your kid de-stress and improve focus in time for school:

  1. Breathing – Adults practice it, why can’t kids? Although with a kid, what you might want to do is integrate a little play into it. Maybe your child has a favorite stuffed animal or small toy. Have them put it on their belly and practice slowly making it rise and fall. After they have done this successfully, see if they can do it without it. Then let them know that when the butterflies come, they can practice this to help themselves.
  2. The Sense Game – Play a game where the child brings attention to a certain sense. Ask them what they notice. For example, if they are outside, play a game where you close your eyes and try to identify the things you are hearing, smelling, or feeling. Open your eyes and ask them to tell you what they are seeing. You can also bring this into their eating, especially for those that often inhale their food. The key here is to bring play into it.
  3. The Listening Game  Mindful listening is a critical skill to learn for adults and kids. We often don’t model it very well and so it’s not passed on. The key here is the difference between hearing and listening. Any of us can hear something, but not really take in the message. Listening implies that we are actively engaged in the content as well, taking it in, registering it and being thoughtful in our response. One way to do this is by playing the game of making eye contact with whomever is speaking and no one can talk until the other person is finished speaking. “Fat chance,” you might say thinking of your kid. Well, here’s the kicker, to add in the element of play add some sort of prize. It can be something small, but we’re trying to build the skill of active listening that will be sorely needed in the classroom.

Finally, try all of these things for yourself, they are not only for children. This time might be stressful for you too and practicing a bit of mindfulness might be a great support. Have patience and compassion for yourself during this process, and know that as much of a struggle as times may be with your children, these times may certainly pass and they will not be children anymore. Even in the difficult we can sometimes find the sacred moment.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories, and questions below. Your interaction provides a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.