By Tvisha Patel, contributing writer
Are you wondering how to help your kids transition back to school? Or perhaps this is top of mind: How can you make back to school easier with the pandemic?
Kids face a lot of anxiety when going back to school – from academic challenges, social pressure, returning to a classroom and much more. COVID-19 adds yet another layer to this stress and pandemic anxiety can take a toll on kids.
Also, did I mention yoga?! Doing yoga with your child can greatly help relieve stress and anxiety.
If you’re ready to learn about 6 Back to School Tips to Ease Pandemic Anxiety, let’s get started!
1. Communicate with Your Child
We all have heard the phrase, ‘communication is key.’
You may be wondering, how exactly should I improve communication with my kid? Try the T.A.L.K strategy!
T = Talk. In your day to day lives, try to notice any changes in behaviour that can signal any shift in emotions. You can gently bring up a casual ‘how are you doing’ conversation that can help the child open up. Positive affirmations can help children in the long run as well.
A = Attention. When you speak to children, especially about their emotions, it helps to make eye contact, nod your head, and give your input after they are done speaking.
L = Listen with perspective. Try to step into their shoes and look at any given situation. That can help strengthen your bond and you can potentially advise ways to help deal with their stress.
K = Know how to respond. Never judge them for feeling a certain way, or discourage them. If they have opened up to you, try to help them personally or find resources that you can use!
2. Get into a Daily Routine
“Set a routine, wake up early, get enough sleep, eat healthy….”
How many times have we heard that, but need an extra push to get started?
A few weeks before schools open, start preparing the kids for their back to school transition. This means: Set a bedtime, wake them up according to school times, get them to choose their clothes the night before, and plan a healthy breakfast.
Here is a quick morning routine example:
6:30: Wake up + meditation
7:00: Wake up kids / shower
8:00: Start work/assign kids some reading (to create a school environment)
10:00: Let kids play/eat a snack
11:00: Yoga session with kids
Setting a routine matters for many reasons! Back to school can be a busy season and a routine can help you incorporate healthy habits. You can also consistently schedule quality time with the kids that can greatly help reduce anxiety. This can include practicing yoga, taking a walk, or baking.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
Ever hit snooze 5 times before you can get up? It seems like a fully rested and active morning is a far fetched dream for ourselves and the kids. But, a full 8 hours of sleep is the key to reduce anxiety and feel better!
Sometimes, kids view less sleep as dedication to their school work or stay up on their devices. Lack of sleep can lead to fatigue, intense stress and much more.
Yet, there are several ways to improve sleep for kids and teens.
Here are a couple tips: Get into the habit of practicing yoga, take away screens before bed, and maintain a schedule for when homework needs to be done. This can help relieve stress right before bed. There are also several yoga poses that can lead to better sleep.
4. Introduce Mindfulness for Kids
Wondering what the benefits of mindfulness are for your kids? Mindfulness can help cognitive focus and regulate emotions, which leads to better academic and social performance. Additionally, there are several benefits of introducing mindfulness to kids!
Kids are exposed to social media, peer pressure and back to school stress. Practicing mindfulness can help them ease into school with minimal anxiety and more focus.
How to Get Started with Mindfulness
Mindfulness is basically paying attention to the present moment, in a particular manner.
One step at a time can be the best way to incorporate mindfulness. Start with 10 minutes of guided meditation with the kids. This can slowly help them relieve back to school stress.
Slowly incorporating mindful eating habits can also bring about change within a kid’s body and mind. With back to school anxiety, taking walks can be yet another great way to give the kids a break from homework!
The Best Mindfulness Techniques for Kids
Ok, mindfulness sounds great for back to school anxiety but what techniques do we use?
Start with breathing exercises for kids. First, find a relaxing place and sit comfortably with the kids. Set a timer for a minute and breathe deeply in and out. When taking a deep breath, visualize the air moving down into the lungs, and back.
How many times have we heard, ‘exercise is good for the heart?’ Just like that, mindful walking has great effects on a child’s mind. So, go on walks, but this time ask the children to feel the sensations of their body. Take a step slowly, and notice how your body balances, how your knees bend, and how your entire body lifts! Ask them to breathe with their steps. A child’s mind can wander off into thoughts, especially with back to school anxiety but with such techniques they can bring their thoughts back into place.
5. Do Yoga with Kids
Yoga is one of the most beneficial methods to help anxiety! So it’s no surprise that this one made it onto our list of how to best relieve back to school stress. Especially with the pandemic, introducing yoga at home can help with both mental and physical health!
Back to School Tips: How Can Yoga Help Anxiety and Depression?
Can yoga really help kids manage anxiety? Yes! Yes! Yes!
The pandemic has put everyone’s life on hold, and kids are struggling because they can’t meet their friends often, play outside much or focus on school at home.
Yoga can calm your child’s mind and relieve back to school anxiety. Plus, yoga is VERY relaxing. It helps kids be more present, and they can let loose when practicing the poses. Even if it’s just for 30 minutes, a child can forget all about the school stress and focus on themselves!
For a little more inspo, Pretzel Kids tailors classes specifically for kids with fun themes, yoga poses for kids, and even fun breathing techniques!
Best Yoga Poses for Kids
If you want the best yoga poses for kids, here are two of our favs to try!
Pose #1 – Child’s Pose
Sit back on your heels and bring your forehead down. Rest your arms in front of your body or behind you. This pose helps stretch the child’s thighs and hips. It can be a very calming pose to help release anxiety, especially with school.
Pose #2 – Downward Facing Dog Pose
Start from a standing position, bend over, and then put your hands on the floor. Walk your hands out until you reach a plank position. Slowly lift your hips up, while your feet are planted. This stretches legs, arms, shoulders and upper body!
6. Try Introducing Breathing Exercises for Kids
Stress is everywhere for kids! Tests, homework, peer pressure, social life and not to mention, the pandemic.
It’s important to incorporate breathing exercises for kids that can help their everyday anxiety for back to school.
Breathing Practices to Try
Breathing exercises are also known as pranayamas! You can also try them with your kids and the best part is, it doesn’t take up too much time either.
Get the kids to breathe deeply but this time, focus on the movement of their belly. Ask them to sit comfortably or lay down and put their hands over their stomach. Direct and ask them to feel their belly rise and slowly fall as they breathe.
To do this exercise, get seated, close your eyes and place your fingers over your ears to cover them. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, make a humming sound. This helps you block out extra distraction and ground your breathing!
How Can Parents Ease Back to School Anxiety
Heading back to school can be very stressful, especially with the pandemic. But, with all these great tips, your kids can overcome anxiety and have a fresh new start!